ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)Kevin Kiermaier capped Tampa Bay’s three-run 10th inning with a game-ending homer, and the Rays beat the Boston Red Sox 3-2 on Saturday night after losing their bid for a combined no-hitter in the top half of the final frame.
Matt Wisler (1-0) surrendered Boston’s first hit when Bobby Dalbec opened the 10th with a triple, driving in automatic runner Jackie Bradley Jr. for a 1-0 lead. Christian Vazquez followed with a sacrifice fly to left.
Major League Baseball rules say it doesn’t count as a no-hitter until the game ends and a team finishes with no hits.
”You don’t want to see that go to waste,” Kiermaier said. ”They threw great. Both sides did. This is about as good a pitchers’ duel as you can get, each team using six or seven arms. But this is 2022 for you. Nothing is normal anymore.”
Hansel Robles (1-1) then came in for Boston and struck out the first two Tampa Bay batters in the bottom half. But automatic runner Randy Arozarena advanced on a balk and scored when Taylor Walls reached on a throwing error by second baseman Trevor Story.
”A tough play. An unbelievable play (for Story) just to stop the ball,” Boston bench coach Will Venable said. ”A ball he’s got to get rid of quickly, and it didn’t go our way.”
After Walls swiped second, Kiermaier drove Robles’ 3-1 pitch deep to right for his first homer of the season.
Boston finished with two hits. Tampa Bay had three.
”It’s a dream of mine. I’ve wanted to hit a walk-off homer. I’ve never done it any level,” said Kiermaier, who was batting .125 when he came up to hit in the 10th. ”I’ll never forget this moment, this day. After my early season struggles I needed that so bad. Our team did. What a win!”
Brandon Lowe’s leadoff double in the fourth off Boston starter Garrett Whitlock was the only hit of the game before Brett Phillips’ two-out single in the eighth off Kutter Crawford. Mike Zunino followed with a 400-foot fly ball that was hauled in by Kike Hernandez at the wall in center.
Whitlock, who made 46 relief appearances for Boston last season, struck out seven in four innings in his first major league start.
J.P. Feyereisen pitched two perfect innings as Tampa Bay’s opener, striking out two. Javy Guerra then got two outs before Jeffrey Springs pitched two innings. Jason Adam got four outs, Ryan Thompson pitched the seventh and Andrew Kittredge worked the eighth and ninth.
”It’s challenging, but they’re also all really good,” Venable said. ”We know our work’s cut out for us when we play these guys. They have a lot of great pitchers that can mix and match and do a lot of different things.”
The homer was Kiermaier’s first since Aug. 16.
”I just hope that HR makes me click so I can make more of an offensive contribution,” he said. ”Hasn’t been great so far, but I’m going to get my swings and hope this is a turning point for me.”
Red Sox: OF J.D. Martinez took batting practice, but missed a third straight game with left abductor tightness. … Two days after testing positive for COVID-19, manager Alex Cora remained in Boston with mild symptoms, according to Venable.
Rays: INF Yandy Diaz was placed on the COVID-19-related injured list, a day after C Francisco Mejia went on the same list. INF-OF Vidal Brujan was called up from Triple-A Durham to take Diaz’s roster spot.
Boston left-hander Rich Hill (0-1, 7.00 ERA) will face Tampa Bay lefty Shane McClanahan (0-1, 2.40 ERA) in the series finale Sunday.
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