Tampa Bay’s Fernando Rodney celebrates after Monday’s 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox. Rodney pitched the ninth inning for his 26th save of the season.
BOSTON — Defensive replacement Sam Fuld misplayed Ryan Lavarnway’s eighth-inning line drive into a double. Two batters later, the Rays left fielder had a chance to make up for it.
Fuld called off the center fielder on what would have been a game-tying sacrifice fly and threw out pinch-runner Daniel Nava for an inning-ending double play that helped the Rays beat Boston 2-1 on Monday night and retake first place in the AL East.
“Off the bat, I knew I wanted that throw, and I knew it was going to be pretty close,” said Fuld, who got so much into the throw that he tumbled over after releasing the ball, a move he called the “Fuld Flop.”
“I went from feeling really crummy to really, really good in about five minutes.”
David Price allowed just two hits over 7 1-3 innings to beat Boston for the second time in six days and give the Rays their 22nd victory in their last 26 games. Tampa Bay went 8-2 on their road trip to Toronto, Boston, New York and back to Boston on Monday night to make up a game that was rained out on Thursday.
Price (6-5) was dominating before the makeup game was delayed for 39 minutes because of a brief downpour that arrived as fans were singing “Sweet Caroline” and he was warming up for the bottom of the eighth. The Rays left-hander stayed in the game, but retired just one batter — after starting him out with three straight balls — before manager Joe Maddon pulled him from the game.
“He came back and got the strikeout, I understand, but I really didn’t like it,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
“I kicked myself. ... I knew I made a mistake” sending Price back out after the rain delay, Maddon said. “The guy’s way too important to the franchise and he’s way too important to himself to jeopardize it on July 29.”
Joel Peralta gave up Lavarnway’s line drive that Fuld tried to chase instead of playing off the Green Monster for a single.
But Nava could no manage to score when Stephen Drew’s line drive went over right fielder Wil Myers’ head for a double.
Nava tagged on Brandon Snyder’s fly ball to short left-center, but catcher Jose Molina got his shin guard down as Nava’s leg slid under him and home plate umpire Jerry Meals signaled the out. Replays showed that Nava’s leg got the plate before the tag.
“What I saw was Molina blocked the plate and Nava’s foot lifted. But in the replays, you could clearly see Nava’s foot got under for a split second and then lifted, so I was wrong on my decision,” Meals told a pool reporter from The Associated Press. “From the angle I had, I did not see his foot get under Molina’s shin guard.”
Boston manager John Farrell was ejected arguing the call. Red Sox owner John Henry tweeted, “A 2-game impact.”
“It was a missed call, a terrible call,” Farrell said. “Clearly the angle of Jerry Meals behind the plate, he did not see the view, Daniel Nava clearly was safe. We should still be playing right now.”
Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for his 26th save. He gave up a leadoff single to Jacoby Ellsbury, who stole second with one out, and walked David Ortiz with two outs. A 100 mph wild pitch moved the runners to second and third but Mike Napoli struck out on a 3-2 changeup to end the game.
Felix Doubront (7-5) allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks, striking out four in five innings.
Price pitched a five-hitter to beat the Red Sox on Wednesday and help the Rays move a half-game back in the AL East behind Boston, which had been in first since May 27. But the series finale was rained out on Thursday, bringing the teams back to Boston for the makeup on Monday night.
Before they could finish things up at Fenway Park for the season, the Rays took over first place in the division on Friday and then gave it back on Sunday.
Price allowed just Ortiz’s double high off the Green Monster to lead off the second inning and Snyder’s 302-foot fly ball off the Pesky Pole for a home run in the sixth. That was the only runner to get past second base against Price, who walked none and struck out eight to win for the fifth time in six starts since coming off the disabled list on July 2.
The Rays led 2-0 after five on an RBI double from Sean Rodriguez and a run-scoring fielder’s choice by Myers.
NOTES: The Rays acquired injured White Sox reliever Jesse Crain for future considerations. ... The Red Sox learned Ortiz won’t be suspended for destroying the phones in the Baltimore dugout with a bat after being ejected for complaining about a pair of called strikes on Saturday. ... Rays 3B Evan Longoria has an 11-game hitting streak, his third streak of the year of 10 or more games. ... Doubront has allowed three runs or fewer in 18 of 19 starts, including his last 14, the longest streak by a Red Sox LHP starter since at least 1920. It matches the longest by a Red Sox pitcher since Pedro Martinez in 2002. ... The Rays, who lost the series finale against the New York Yankees on Sunday, haven’t lost back-to-back games since June.
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