ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. - No need for walk-off dramatics this time. The Tampa Bay Rays got it done a little earlier on Sunday at Tropicana Field.
After sinking the hapless Boston Red Sox into the American League East cellar with wins in the bottom of the ninth and 15th innings this weekend, the Rays swept their first set of the season behind a five-run seventh in an 8-5 victory.
Sean Rodriguez began the barrage with a three-run homer to left field off left-hander Craig Breslow, giving Tampa Bay a 6-3 lead. It was his sixth of the season and first of his career as a pinch-hitter. Rodriguez had beaten the Oakland A's in the 12th inning with a three-run homer on Thursday.
Tampa Bay continued to pummel Breslow, getting subsequent singles from right fielder Wil Myers and first baseman James Loney before shortstop Yunel Escobar's two-out, two-run double that upped the lead to 8-3.
Boston went down again, but this time with a fight. Sort of.
Escobar taking third base without a throw apparently stirred a long-standing tension between the teams and the Red Sox's agitation of heading toward a 10th consecutive loss. With catcher Jose Molina at the plate, Escobar removed his helmet and began gesturing and yelling toward the Red Sox dugout, prompting former Ray Jonny Gomes to rush in from left field and confront him physically. Both benches and bullpens cleared, with Gomes, Escobar and Rodriguez ejected by the time the punchless scrum was cleared.
Breslow (2-1) took the loss after allowing five runs on five hits in two-thirds of an inning. Peralta (2-3) earned the win despite allowing two runs on three hits in one inning.
Tampa Bay improved to 23-28 while Boston (20-29) became the first defending World Series champion to lose 10 straight since the 1998 Miami Marlins.
Boston had tied the game 3-3 in the seventh on a booming two-run pinch-hit homer by Gomes, who is now 6-for-13 with four homers lifetime against reliever Joel Peralta. Escobar didn't help Peralta's cause in the inning, earlier misplaying to the side an A.J. Pierzynski chopper that he failed to touch. The ball rolled into the outfield and was ruled a double.
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the third inning against Rays starter Jake Odorizzi on a sacrifice flyout by Brock Holt. Catcher Pierzynski had led off with a walk and chased to third on Grady Sizemore's double before Brock produced his sixth RBI of the season with one out.
Third baseman Evan Longoria (3-for-5) tied the game, 1-1, by stroking the first pitch of the fifth inning into the right-field stands against Boston starter Brandon Workman. The homer was Longoria's fifth of the season but first since May 6.
Tampa Bay kept pressure on Workman, as Myers worked a one-out walk and with two outs, outfielder Brandon Guyer (2-for-3) singled to right field. Infielder Logan Forsythe followed with a single to give the Rays their first lead on his fifth RBI of the season.
The Rays added a run -- and momentarily two -- in the sixth to lead 3-1 but a video replay overturned a safe call at second base on shortstop Xander Bogaerts' and ended the inning. Center fielder David DeJesus began the rally with a one-out double and moved to third on Longoria's single to left. Designated hitter Matt Joyce walked to load the bases and Tampa Bay eked out a run when Myers beat the throw to first on a potential inning-ending 6-4-3 double play. DeJesus scored on the play for a 3-1 lead.
One batter later, umpire Stu Scheurwater ruled that Myers had beaten Bogaerts to second in a force attempt on a James Loney grounder, which would have allowed Longoria home. The call was quickly reversed, however.
Workman allowed three runs on five hits and five walks with three strikeouts.
Odorizzi allowed one earned run on four hits with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings. It was a more efficient outing for the right-hander than his previous, in which he had career highs in walks (5) and pitches (113) in lasting just 4 2/3 innings of a loss to Oakland.
Bogaerts' two-run single off reliever Josh Lueke prompted Rays manager Joe Maddon to summon Grant Balfour, who turned recorded the final out for his ninth save of the season.