Devil Rays 4, Red Sox 3, 10 innings
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Suddenly, Tampa Bay is not playing like a last-place team.
The Devil Rays matched their longest winning streak of the season with their fourth straight victory, beating Curt Schilling and the Boston Red Sox 4-3 Monday night on Aubrey Huff’s two-out RBI double in the 10th inning.
“We let one slip away,” Red Sox pitcher David Wells said. “This team is not easy as everybody thinks. They’ve got a good ballclub over there. They make things happen, so you’ve got to make good pitches.”
Jorge Cantu scored from first base when the game-winning hit off Schilling (2-4) soared over right fielder Trot Nixon’s head and caromed off the wall past Nixon to end Boston’s first extra-inning game of the season.
“I knew it was over his head. I just wanted a good kick off the wall,” Huff said.
Schilling lost for the second time since returning from the disabled list on July 13 and taking over the closer’s job instead of moving back into the starting rotation. He didn’t think he threw that bad of a pitch to Huff.
“I didn’t think that would end the game right there, but he hit it well. A lot better than I thought he did,” Schilling said.
Jesus Colome (2-2) pitched 2 1-3 innings for the win as Tampa Bay, which swept Baltimore over the weekend, improved to 8-3 since the All-Star break. Boston’s lead in the AL East shrunk to one game over second-place New York.
Colome got out of a jam in the ninth by first tagging out pinch-runner Adam Stern in a rundown between third and home and then getting major league RBI leader Manny Ramirez to fly out with the bases loaded to end the inning.
Nixon singled and stole second in the 10th. But the Red Sox caught a bad break when John Olerud’s ground single between shortstop and second base hit Nixon in the leg and the Boston runner was ruled out.
“We’re getting breaks we haven’t gotten in the first half,” Huff said. “I don’t see anything different except our pitching is getting it done now.”
The Red Sox set a major league record to start a season by not playing extra-innings until their 99th game.
Schilling pitched a perfect ninth before giving up a leadoff single to Carl Crawford in the 10th. Cantu reached on a fielder’s choice, bunting into a force play.
“I thought he was throwing very well,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said of Schilling. “A good hitter did what you don’t want him to do.”
Wells, who hasn’t lost to the Devil Rays since 1999, allowed three runs and nine hits over 6 1-3 innings. He was lifted after giving up one-out singles to Toby Hall and Nick Green, and reliever Mike Timlin was unable to keep Tampa Bay from tying the game.
Julio Lugo’s RBI single off Timlin wiped out a 3-2 lead the Red Sox took on Johnny Damon’s two-run homer off Travis Harper in the top of the seventh. Bill Mueller drove in Boston’s first run with a second-inning RBI single off Devil Rays starter Doug Waechter.
The Devil Rays tied it 1-all on Hall’s sacrifice fly in the second after wasting an opportunity to get off to a quick start when Wells gave up a double to Lugo and single to Crawford to begin the game.
Wells escaped the jam by striking out Cantu and Jonny Gomes and getting Huff to ground out to end the inning. Huff singled with one out in the fourth and scored when Damon Hollins doubled to left-center for a 2-1 lead.
Home runs have been a problem for Waechter, particularly at Tropicana Field where he’s given up 27 in 110 career innings. But he kept the potent Red Sox in check, allowing four singles and a double before leaving with two outs in the fifth.
Waechter was activated from the disabled list earlier in the day after being sidelined since June 29 with tendinitis in his right index finger. He allowed one run and five hits in 5 2-3 innings, departing with a 2-1 lead.
Harper replaced Chad Orvella with a 2-0 count on Tony Graffanino, who eventually walked with one out in the seventh. Damon followed with his seventh homer on a towering flyball that struck the right field foul pole to put the Red Sox ahead 3-2.
Harper had not allowed a run in 12 innings over seven outings since yielding nine in just two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees on June 21. Damon is 2-for-10 lifetime against the right-hander, but both of those hits were home runs.
The Red Sox won their previous three extra-inning games, all during last year’s playoffs. … Wells has won nine consecutive decisions against the Devil Rays dating to 1999 when he was with Toronto. He’s 10-1 overall. … INF Fernando Cortez was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room on Tampa Bay’s roster for Waechter. … The Devil Rays released RHP Hideo Nomo, who had been designated for assignment on July 16.