Rays erase early deficit in third straight walk-off win
Price settles in after rough first; Red Sox error seals victory in 15th
ST. PETERSBURG -- Walk-offs suddenly are the rage at Tropicana Field.
While Saturday night's did not come until the bottom of the 15th inning, the Rays' 6-5 win over the Red Sox brought the team its third consecutive walk-off win.
"It's rare, but we talked about that, we were due for a couple," said manager Joe Maddon of the three consecutive walk-off wins, which happened for the first time in club history. "We had so many opportunities the previous homestand to do things like this and were unable to do this, so the last three days we were able to get that little bit of a mojo going again. It really means a lot when you start feeling and learning how to win games late. That really can propel you."
The Rays have won three in a row to move to 22-28 and improved to 3-2 on the homestand before closing out the Red Sox series Sunday. Tampa Bay then heads on the road for a three-stop trip to Toronto, Boston and Miami.
James Loney singled off Andrew Miller to start the 15th. Cole Figueroa pinch-ran for Loney and moved to second on Brandon Guyer's bunt single -- his fourth hit. Desmond Jennings followed with two futile attempts to bunt before hitting one back through the middle.
Miller made the grab and threw to second looking to start a double play. But the left-hander's throw sailed wide and low of the base, allowing Figueroa to race home with the winning run.
"I just turned around and went to go throw," Miller said. "Like instincts, you spin around, as I start to see everything unfold at the last second, I felt like I didn't think I had a play. I didn't have anybody getting to the bag and didn't have time to hold onto the ball. I felt like the ball came back to me and I tried to make the play. … Jennings is a fast runner, but we had a double-play opportunity."
Overcoming a five-run deficit gave the Rays their largest comeback win since Aug. 18, 2012, in Anaheim, when they overcame an 8-0 deficit to the Angels. And it was the seventh time in club history the Rays have had a walk-off win with an error on the final play. The last time it occurred was Aug. 10, 2011, when Sam Fuld tripled and scored on an error on the final play.
Maddon heaped plenty of praise for the victory on David Price, who overcame a rough beginning to give the club a chance to win.
Nothing went right for Price at the outset. With the bases loaded, he hit a batter to force home a run and A.J. Pierzynski hit a three-run homer on one of Price's 34 first-inning pitches to put the Rays behind, 5-0.
In short, the Rays and their prized left-hander looked cooked, particularly considering how lackluster the offense has been lately.
Only Price didn't take the easy way out. Instead he got back to work in the second, using just 10 pitches to retire the side. Taking one inning at a time, he continued to mow down Red Sox hitters in an efficient manner. Seven scoreless innings after his unfortunate first, Price left the mound having used just 114 pitches and the score stood tied at 5.
And while Price piled up the zeros, the Rays mounted some offense. Guyer accrued his first three hits, including a two-run, game-tying double in the fifth off Boston starter Jake Peavy.
"I was just up there battling, and he hung a curveball and I put a good swing on it," Guyer said. "If it wasn't for me having a good two-strike approach and trying to go the other way, I probably would have just hooked it foul. It was just a battle. He's a great pitcher and he made one little mistake and I just capitalized on it."
Logan Forsythe chipped in with two RBIs via a single and a sacrifice fly. Matt Joyce singled home another.
The quality pitching carried on long after Price exited.
Jake McGee and Grant Balfour pitched the ninth and 10th, each retiring the side in order. Brad Boxberger then pitched the 11th and 12th, allowing just one baserunner while striking out four.
Cesar Ramos took over to start the 13th and pitched three scoreless frames to earn the win. His appearance came a week after lasting just 1 1/3 innings in his last start before moving back to the bullpen to make room for Alex Cobb to return to the rotation.
"That's baseball, you just never know," Ramos said. "It's a game of adjustments from that start to going back to the bullpen to help out."
He noted that his mission Saturday night was to just "go as long as I can."
"I guess I was good for 100 pitches, 115, whatever it took," he said. "The way that game was going, we could have been here all night."
So could he have gone to the 20th?
"Yeah, why not?" said Ramos with a smile.
After the Red Sox's five-run first, they were held to just two hits and two walks.
"This team just doesn't quit," Price said. "I put them in a hole 5-0 before we even had a chance to swing the bats, it was a good job by our offense and especially by our bullpen."