Rapid reaction: Red Sox 4, Rays 2

June, 16, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Revenge proved a costly distraction for the Tampa Bay Rays in the rubber match of their series with the Red Sox.

Rays ace David Price apparently was bent on settling a dubious score with Kevin Youkilis and hit the third baseman with a fastball off the shoulder in the first inning, loading the bases. First base was open at the time, but it cost Price a run when he walked David Ortiz.

In a series as well-pitched as this one, that proved big. Price threw 33 pitches in the inning, gave up a couple more runs in the second on an RBI single by Darnell McDonald and RBI double by Dustin Pedroia, and was gone at the end of five, his pitch count having cracked 100 (106).

Sox starter Clay Buchholz also was gone after five, but for a different reason: Buchholz, working on a two-hitter at the time, left because of back stiffness while holding a 3-1 lead.

Casey Kotchman cut the lead to a run with a home run in the sixth off Alfredo Aceves, but Adrian Gonzalez matched that with a ninth-inning home run off Kyle Farnsworth, his 14th of the season. Gonzalez was on base eight times in the series, including five hits.

The Rays put the first two runners on in the bottom of the ninth against Jonathan Papelbon, who hadn’t pitched since last Friday in Toronto, but Youkilis made a diving catch in foul territory of a bunt attempt by Elliot Johnson, and Papelbon whiffed Justin Ruggiano and Sean Rodriguez to end it, collecting his 13th save in the process.

The Sox finished a highly successful road trip 8-1, sweeping the Yankees and Jays and taking two of three from the Rays. They may have lost shortstop Jed Lowrie, however, who left after a first-inning at-bat with ongoing shoulder problems.

And why was Price throwing at Youkilis? Two nights earlier, while trying to beat out a ninth-inning ground ball, Youkilis had kicked Rays first baseman Kotchman in the left ankle, leaving a bruise. Kotchman said publicly he didn’t believe it was intentional, but evidently that sentiment wasn’t shared in all precincts. And Youkilis had done little to endear himself further when he hit a game-winning three-run home run Wednesday night.

Gordon Edes

ESPN Staff Writer



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