ST. PETERSBURG -- September baseball. Enough said.
Boston's 13-6, 15-inning win over Tampa Bay on Friday night had six lead changes and featured a little bit of everything -- along with a lot of heart by both teams, tucked away in the 6 hours and 5 minutes that it took to finish.
Kevin Kiermaier demonstrated why he's one of the top fielders in the business, the Rays put on a power display with four home runs and the Red Sox showed a no-quit attitude with a ninth-inning comeback at Tropicana Field. Both teams refused to give in until Boston scored seven runs in the 15th to improve to 13-3 in extra innings this season.
• Kiermaier's Gold Glove skills wow Trop crowd
"Our guys have done such a good job as we've gotten into some of these really long games, almost marathon-type games, and they don't quit, they keep digging for a little extra," Boston manager John Farrell said.
The Red Sox (84-63) maintained their three-game lead over the Yankees in the American League East, winning for the seventh time in their past nine games. Meanwhile, the Rays (72-76) remained 5 1/2 games behind the second AL Wild Card spot. For the Red Sox, it was the fourth time this season they have played at least 15 innings, and the first time they've done that since since 1951.
"I think more than anything the number of games that we've played in extra innings, we're certainly comfortable," Farrell said. "We don't panic. There's a relaxed attitude and energy in the dugout knowing that someone is going to step up big."
Austin Pruitt walked Jackie Bradley Jr. to start the 15th and Xander Bogaerts followed with a single. Dustin Pedroia then hit a ball to Brad Miller that the Rays second baseman couldn't handle, allowing Bradley to score the go-ahead run. Chase Whitley took over for Pruitt and Andrew Benintendi greeted him with an RBI single to center as the floodgates opened and the Red Sox continued to score until they had a 13-6 lead.
Earlier in the contest, Wilson Ramos hit two home runs and Adeiny Hechavarria added a solo shot to give the Rays a 5-2 lead, much of which came at the expense of Boston starter Chris Sale, who allowed four runs in 5 2/3 innings in a no-decision.
The Rays took that three-run lead into the ninth and appeared to have a win in their back pocket with closer Alex Colome seeking his 45th save. But things quickly unraveled. After walking Mitch Moreland to lead off the inning, Colome uncorked a wild pitch to let Moreland advance to second. Rafael Devers then grounded to second, but Danny Espinosa booted the chance, allowing Moreland to score.
Sandy Leon's infield RBI single cut the lead to one run, but in the midst of the Red Sox's rally, Kiermaier's diving catch in left-center field robbed Bradley of a base-clearing double to the gap with the potential tying and go-ahead runs on base. The potential tying run managed to advance to third, and Bogaerts singled him home to tie the game at 5 and send the game into extra innings.
"We won, that's what we need right now," Bogaerts said. "Comeback win was huge. We're down by three facing one of the best closers in the game on their side, tie the game in the ninth. Hopefully we can carry this momentum over to [Saturday]."
After four scoreless extra innings, the Red Sox got busy in the 14th when Mookie Betts and Moreland cobbled together back-to-back singles to open the inning. Devers then singled back through the middle on a rocket that deflected off Miller's glove at second. Betts raced home to put the Red Sox up, 6-5.
Kiermaier alertly threw out Moreland trying for third on the play, which might have prevented the Red Sox from padding their lead. Kiermaier then homered to lead off the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 6.
The Rays tied an AL record by using 12 pitchers, while their batters struck out a club-record 24 times. The teams combined for 37 strikeouts, a record for a Rays game.
"Anytime you're up 5-2 going into the ninth with the guy who's leading in saves, you feel pretty good," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Not that teams can't come back like they did tonight. But it's a tough loss."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bogaerts comes through: With the Rays clinging to a one-run lead in the ninth, and the Red Sox needing a clutch hit to drive home the tying run, Bogaerts delivered. Facing Colome, Bogaerts lined a single to left allowing Rajai Davis to score from third with the tying run. More >
Miller's error: The Red Sox's first two batters in the 15th reached to bring Pedroia to the plate. Pedroia hit a groudner to Miller, and it appeared as though the Rays might get some help from a double play, or at least a forceout at second. Instead, Miller could not field it cleanly, allowing the Red Sox to take a 7-6 lead to spark their seven-run 15th.
"Winning this game, it boosts the morale and makes me not go home and want to just stare at the ceiling." -- Sale, joking about his short start
"Getting the lead on [Sale]. ... If you ask me, I think he's the best pitcher in the game. So for us to get a lead on him was huge. And Colome, he's been a horse all year for us. So things like that are going to happen every now and then. It didn't go our way tonight. A really tough one to get away." -- Kiermaier, on the disappointing loss
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Bourjos completed his sixth-inning triple in 10.75 seconds giving the speedy outfielder the Rays' fastest home-to-third time of 2017 and the team's third fastest in Statcast™ history.
The Rays challenged two tag plays in the 11th when Deven Marrero was called safe at home on a rundown play between third and home and Blake Swihart was called safe sliding into third on the same play. After a review of 3 minutes, 16 seconds, the safe call of the lead runner was overturned while the call at third was confirmed.
The Red Sox challenged the ruling that Kiermaier's throw caught Moreland trying to advance to third on Devers' RBI single in the 14th. Umpires reviewed the call for 1 minute and 4 seconds and upheld the call, as Kiermaier's throw was in time.
The Rays tried to save a run with a challenge in the 15th that questioned whether Pedroia slid in safely with Boston's ninth run on Moreland's single. Catcher Jesus Sucre received Kiermaier's throw in the back of the righty batter's box and couldn't catch the evasively sliding Pedroia, a cloud of dust rising up on the play. A review of 1 minute and 55 seconds upheld the call on the field, Pedroia's run counting.
Red Sox: In a rematch of last Sunday's contest at Fenway, Rick Porcello (9-17, 4.64 ERA) will take on the Rays on Saturday, this time at Tropicana Field at 6:10 p.m. ET. Porcello held the Rays to two runs over five innings, but took his AL-leading 17th loss. He's 1-4 with a 4.91 ERA against Tampa Bay this year.
Rays:Alex Cobb (11-9, 3.59 ERA) gets the nod Saturday when the Rays host the Red Sox. Cobb picked up his 11th win Sunday when he held the Red Sox to one run in five innings, giving the right-hander his first road victory since July 15 against the Angels in Anaheim.
Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.