BOSTON (AP) — Shane Victorino didn’t even notice Tampa Bay’s unusual five-man infield. His only thought was to make contact with the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury standing on third base.
Victorino had a well-placed RBI single into an overloaded infield in the 10th inning Saturday, lifting the Red Sox to a 2-1 win over the Rays.
Ellsbury singled with one out against Brandon Gomes (0-1), stole second and advanced on catcher Jose Lobaton’s throwing error when the ball deflected off shortstop Yunel Escobar’s glove and into short right field. Victorino then hit a hard grounder into the unusual infield configuration that second baseman Ben Zobrist made a diving stop on to his right, but was unable to make a throw home.
“That’s the goal right there,” a smiling Victorino said. “Just put the ball in play. I’ve been in that spot before.”
Ellsbury knew he’d score easily once the ball got past the pitcher.
“When I saw him dive, I knew I was going to get in,” he said. “It’s probably got to be hit right at someone to have them make a throw.”
David Ross had a solo homer for Boston, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
Red Sox manager John Farrell said he had the “contact play on” in the 10th, where Ellsbury was breaking on any ball hit on the ground.
“We felt like we had the combination we could take advantage of,” he said.
Rays manager Joe Maddon felt it was just hit in the wrong spot for his defense.
“The ball was perfect,” he said. “You bisect two guys on the same side of the infield and then furthermore, hit it at the right speed. It’s just very unfortunate for us. But something we work on. They beat us.”
Junichi Tazawa (2-0) pitched one inning for the win, getting out of a jam after giving up a leadoff double to Jose Molina, who was lifted for a pinch runner. Lobaton entered in the bottom of the 10th.
The Rays went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“In my career, I’ve noticed early in the season a lot of teams struggle with that,” Tampa Bay’s Shelley Duncan said of his team’s clutch hitting woes. “Sometimes guys press a little more earlier than they do in the middle of the year.”
Boston’s Koji Uehara escaped a ninth-inning jam after closer Joel Hanrahan had his second poor outing this week. Gomes then got Stephen Drew to line out to center field with a pair of runners on, sending it to extra innings.
Hanrahan, who gave up five runs in the ninth of a loss to Baltimore on Wednesday, opened the ninth by walking Evan Longoria and Zobrist. Uehara then struck out pinch-hitter James Loney looking before retiring the next two hitters.
The anticipated matchup of prized lefties, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price and Jon Lester, lived up to its billing.
Lester held the Rays to one run on five hits, walked one and struck out five to move into sixth place ahead of Luis Tiant on the club’s career strikeout list with 1,078. Tiant had 1,075 from 1971-78.
“We had to make a couple of adjustments where I had to get the ball down,” Lester said. “You have those days where you’ve getting the ball up.”
Price, coming off a miserable start when he allowed a career-worst eight runs last Sunday against Cleveland, pitched six innings, allowing just the solo homer to Ross and three other hits while striking out eight and walking four.
Price mostly mixed a sharp cutter with a fastball and an occasional curve to make the Red Sox hitters look as if they were guessing most of the time.
“I felt a lot better. It started with my bullpen last week,” he said. “Just going to continue to get my work in. Like I said before, six innings over here just isn’t enough. That’s a very good team and Lester threw the ball extremely well today.”
With the Red Sox trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Ross belted a homer out of Fenway Park, sending a hanging changeup over the Green Monster seats. Before that, Boston had just one infield hit — a bouncer to deep short that Victorino barely beat out.
The Rays jumped ahead 1-0 in the third, but Lester stranded Sean Rodriguez on third base after he reached with no outs. Desmond Jennings singled and scored when Rodriguez’s doubled down the left field line didn’t carom very far and stayed deep in the corner. He advanced on a wild pitch.
Lester then fanned Longoria on a cutter, surpassing Tiant, Zobrist was robbed on first baseman Mike Napoli’s diving catch of his liner and Shelley Duncan grounded out.
Boston had runners on first and second after consecutive two-out singles by Napoli and Will Middlebrooks, but Price got Daniel Nava on an easy fly to center.
NOTES: Maddon has decided to hit Longoria third against lefties, hoping the slugger’s power returns soon. Longoria is currently in the longest streak of his career starting a season without a home run. … Farrell said RHP John Lackey, on the 15-day DL with a strained right biceps, could start playing catch in a day or two. … Boston LHP Felix Doubront, skipped with Friday’s rainout, threw a two-inning simulated game Saturday morning. “It served the purpose we were intending,” Farrell said. … Price entered Saturday’s start with a 3.08 ERA in his career against the Red Sox, best by any opponent with at least 15 starts. … RHP Clay Buchholz (2-0, 0.64 ERA) is scheduled to face Rays’ RHP Alex Cobb (1-0, 0.00) on Sunday. … Red Sox DH David Oritz, who missed all of spring training with an Achilles injury, went 1 for 4 with a single and two RBIs in a rehab game with Triple-A Pawtucket Saturday. It was the opener of a doubleheader.