Rays lose early lead, rally in 9th to beat Red Sox, 7-5

Marc Topkin, Tampa Bay Times on

Published in Baseball

BOSTON — Looking to win the series and move both back over .500 and past the rival Red Sox into third place in the American League East, the Rays got off to a good start Thursday, building a four-run advantage by the fourth inning.

But little has come easy this season, so they let that lead slip away before rallying for two runs in the ninth and a 7-5 win.

The end result was still good, as the Rays improved to 23-22 by taking three of four from the Sox (22-22), who visit Tropicana Field Monday for three more games.

The winning rally off Boston closer Kenley Jansen started with a one-out walk by Randy Arozarena and included a hit-and-run single by Jonathan Aranda, an RBI single by Isaac Paredes off the Green Monster and a sacrifice fly by Richie Palacios, who was celebrating his 27th birthday.

Jason Adam started the bottom of the ninth, allowing a two-out walk to Rob Refsnyder and a single by Rafael Devers that put runners at the corners. Then the Rays had to take Adam out as they exceeded the number of allotted mound visits, sparking an extended delay as the umpires checked with New York and both managers had their say.

Erasmo Ramirez came in and got Romy Gonzalez to ground back to the mound for the final out.

In a matchup of starters who spent part of last season with the other team, neither current Ray Zack Littell nor current Red Sox Cooper Criswell were overly sharp.

Littell, who made two May 2023 relief appearances for Boston before being designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by Tampa Bay, worked five innings, allowing four runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out three, throwing 91 pitches.

Criswell, who pitched in 10 games for the Rays while shuttling back and forth from Triple-A Durham, was worse. He failed to get through the fourth, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits and two walks, with a run-scoring wild pitch. He struck out three, throwing 100 pitches.


The Rays took an early 1-0 lead, and after the Sox tied the score in the second built it to 5-1.

They got two runs in the third when Jose Siri drew a leadoff walk and Josh Lowe homered for the second time in three days, this one just beyond the reach of right fielder Wilyer Abreu.

The Rays got two more in the fourth thanks to some more sloppy play by the Sox, who entered the game with a majors-most 34 unearned runs allowed.

They loaded the bases when Jose Caballero reached on a throwing error by shortstop Ceddanne Rafaela, Ben Rortvedt doubled and Siri was hit by a pitch. They got one run on Criswell’s wild pitch and the other on a Yandy Diaz ground out.

But Littell couldn’t hold the 5-1 lead.

Jarren Duran opened the Sox’s half of the fifth with a double and went to third on a flyout. Refsnyder grounded a ball to the right side that first baseman Aranda grabbed while headed toward second but had no play as Littell didn’t cover first.

Not getting the out hurt. A walk to Devers loaded the bases, and Dominic Smith’s ground out to first scored a run. Garrett Cooper followed with a two-run double to cut the Rays’ lead to 5-4.

Reliever Kevin Kelly, who has been throwing well, replaced Littell for the sixth. He got two outs, then gave up a tying homer to Duran.

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