ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Jarren Duran had a tiebreaking RBI single in the ninth and the COVID-19 impacted Boston Red Sox stopped the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays’ nine-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.
Boston infielder Yairo Munoz became the latest Boston player to test positive for the coronavirus. Eight Boston players and two coaches have either had a positive test or are considered close contacts since last Friday.
”That was a great win,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. ”Everybody was into it. It was a great baseball game, let’s put it that way.”
Rafael Devers opened the ninth with a single off Pete Fairbanks (3-5) , the sixth Rays pitcher, and went to second on Alex Verdugos one-out infield hit. After Christian Vazquez struck out, Duran made it 3-2 on his base-hit to right.
Garrett Whitlock (7-2) went two scoreless innings before Adam Ottavino worked the ninth to get his 11th save.
Rays rookie Wander Franco homered off Chris Sale, extending his on-base streak to 32 games. He is one game away from tying Hall of Famers Mel Ott (1929) and Arky Vaughn (1932) for the third-longest stretch for a player under 21.
Sale made his fourth start since returning from Tommy John surgery, allowing two runs and six hits over a season-high six innings. In addition to inducing three double plays, the lefty struck out three, walked two and hit two batters.
”There’s no doubt we’ve had some gut-punches over the last week, week and a half,” Sale said. ”We’ve still got some fight left in us, we’ve got some kick. No one in here has given up.”
Tampa Bay went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
”That’s what happens when you’re facing a guy like Chris Sale,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. ”He looked really good. He’s shown throughput his career he’s got a knack for making the big pitch with guys on base and he did that tonight.”
Vazquez homered, drove in two runs and made a nifty defensive play for the Red Sox. Boston is two-games up on Oakland in the second AL wildcard race.
Franco’s third-inning two-run opposite-field drive to right on a high and away pitch gave the Rays a 2-1 lead.
”Those are the one’s you don’t lose sleep over, honestly,” Sale said. ”That’s not a home-run pitch. He’s not suppose to hit that ball out. That was me verus him and he won. Not too many guys can get to that. It’s not like I hung a breaking ball or threw right it now the middle, he earned it.
Vazquez tied it at 2 on his seventh-inning homer off Collin McHugh, who has allowed just two earned runs in his last 38 2/3 innings,
Alex Verdugo tripled when the ball got past a diving Manuel Margot in center in the second and scored on Vazquez’s single.
Vazquez made a nice scoop on Devers’ thrown and tagged out Joey Wendle as he tried to score on Randy Arozarena’s seventh-inning grounder.
Cash called it a ”fantastic” play by Vazquez.
Jonathan Arauz threw out Franco when he attempted to score on Margot’s grounder in the eighth.
Kyle Schwarber had a two-out single in the fifth but Vazquez was easily thrown out trying to score from second by Arozarena in right.
Red Sox: RHP Ryan Brasier (left calf) and OF Danny Santana (left groin) returned from the IL. …. INF Jack Lopez and RHP John Schreiber had their contracts purchased from Triple-A Worcester.
Rays: RHP David Robertson and SS Taylor Walls were recalled from Triple-A Durham. Robertson struck out two during a perfect eighth in his first big league appearance since Apr. 14, 2019.
Red Sox: Cora said SS Xander Bogaerts has no COVID-19 symptoms. He was pulled from Tuesday’s game in the second inning.
Boston LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (10-7) and Rays LHP Shane McClanahan (9-4) are Thursday night’s starters.
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