ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays catcher Luke Maile had three chances to tag Dustin Pedroia at plate in the 10th inning, but the Red Sox second baseman avoided the tag twice -- despite being beaten by more than 15 feet on a relay throw from the outfield.On the third try, Maile
ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays catcher Luke Maile had three chances to tag Dustin Pedroia at plate in the 10th inning, but the Red Sox second baseman avoided the tag twice -- despite being beaten by more than 15 feet on a relay throw from the outfield.
On the third try, Maile tagged Pedroia, but the ball came loose. And David Ortiz's last hit at Tropicana Field will go down as a game-winning double as Boston beat the Rays, 3-2, in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon. It's the 11th win in a row for the Red Sox, who set a Major League record by striking out 11 straight batters at one point in the game.
"I don't know what you want to call it -- dance-step, two-step … Fortunately, the ball springs free from Maile's glove," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "That's a key moment, honestly, an exciting moment."
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"It was obviously a strange play," Maile said. "I don't really know the timing of when the ball left the mitt or anything like that. I remember touching him. You just have to hang onto the ball, man. It was a weird play. Especially with the knuckleball glove. I never really felt it come out. I kind of felt it in the pocket as I was going to reach for him. Don't really know when it came out. It's just a play you have to make."
The win also moved Boston's magic number to clinch the American League East to two. The Blue Jays defeated the Yankees, 4-3. The Rangers lost, moving Boston and Texas into a tie for the best record in the American League. The Rangers have the tiebreaker over the Red Sox due to a better intradivision record.
The Red Sox made history with a prodigious strikeout streak on Sunday, striking out 21 batters in the first nine innings. The Major League record before that was 20 strikeouts in a nine-inning game. Boston had a stretch of 17 outs in a row recorded via strikeout -- including the record 11 consecutive plate appearances. Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez tied a career high with 13 strikeouts. Heath Hembree came in and struck out all five batters he faced.
"Everyone is stepping up and doing their job," Hembree said. "The starting pitching is doing a good job. They are getting us deep in ballgames the last couple of weeks and it has been real easy on the bullpen when starters go deep."
A Mookie Betts RBI single and a Pedroia home run was all the offense Boston had in the first nine innings. Richie Shaffer had a second-inning sac fly for the Rays, and Brad Miller tied the game with an RBI single in the eighth.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Stealing the show: For the second straight game, Pedroia used his power to boost the Sox. He crushed a towering home run to left field in the top of the third inning to break a 1-1 tie before scoring the crazy go-ahead run. On Saturday, he turned a deficit into a three-run lead with a seventh-inning grand slam that gave Boston a win.
Short one for Odorizzi:Jake Odorizzi has been one of the best pitchers in the American League during the second half of the season, and easily the Rays' best. He never gave in to Red Sox hitters on Sunday, but he came away with his shortest outing of the season when he pitched just three innings. The right-hander allowed only two runs, but while doing so, he needed 84 pitches. The outing was his shortest since going three innings against the Red Sox on Sept. 24, 2014.
"Odo, he just didn't have it today," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I think his mechanics kind of lost it a little bit. You could tell he was kind of tilting, drifting forward. He did everything he could to battle and keep us there. And he did a very good job of that. But the pitch count obviously ran way up -- 84 pitches through three, not ideal."
Strikeouts plentiful: When Logan Forsythe singled to lead off the Rays' eighth, he snapped a streak of 11 consecutive Rays hitters to strike out. According to the Rays -- and confirmed by the Elias Sports Bureau -- the 11 consecutive strikeouts established a new Major League record. The previous record was set on April 22, 1970, at Shea Stadium, when the Padres struck out 10 consecutive times against Tom Seaver of the Mets. For the day, Rays hitters set a club record with 23 strikeouts.
"They went on a strikeout run," Cash said. "We just had a tough time putting the ball in play."
Easy as 4-6-3: After the Rays tied the game in the eighth inning, they still had runners at the corners and one out for pinch-hitter Nick Franklin. Though 17 straight outs had been recorded via strikeout for Boston, Joe Kelly induced a sharp grounder to second base and it made for an easy double play.
"We came up big when we needed to," Farrell said.
"They made a great relay. It was just one of those things where the ball got there before me, so I didn't really have anywhere to go. I just tried to go around him and touch the plate. He was using that knuckleball glove, so it was probably a little flimsy, so it happens."
-- Pedroia, on his play at the plate
"We played well. But the common theme is we're coming up short. And when you come up short, those one-run losses really stink and I think that's where we're at right now."
-- Cash, on the series against the Red Sox
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Between Shaffer's second-inning sac fly and Forsythe's eighth-inning RBI single, Rays batters went two hours and 11 minutes without a ball in play.
The Rays challenged in the top of the fifth inning when Betts was called safe at first base on a pickoff attempt by Maile. After a review of one minute, 18 seconds, the call on the field was overturned.
The Rays challenged again in the 10th inning when Pedroia was called safe at home after Maile dropped the ball while applying the tag. After a review of 39 seconds, the call on the field was confirmed.
Red Sox:David Price (17-8, 3.91 ERA) leads the Red Sox in innings, and will have a chance to add to that when he faces the Yankees at 7:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday in New York. Since Aug. 17, Price has a 2.78 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP in eight starts. Before that, he had a 4.29 ERA and a 1.28 WHIP in 25 starts.
Rays: The Rays travel to Chicago, where they will begin a seven-game road trip with a four-game series against the White Sox on Monday at 8:10 ET. Drew Smyly (7-11, 4.86 ERA) will start hoping to extend his streak of 11 consecutive games without taking a loss.
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Sam Blum is a reporter for MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.
Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.