BOSTON (AP) — Yandy Díaz’s sixth-inning RBI single turned into a two-run Little League homer, and the major league-best Tampa Bay Rays beat the sloppy Boston Red Sox 6-2 on Sunday.
Josh Lowe, Luke Raley and Díaz each had two hits for the Rays (42-19), who are 6-1 against AL East rival Boston this season.
Alex Verdugo had two doubles, a triple and scored twice for the last-place Red Sox.
With the Rays leading 4-2 in the sixth and Manuel Margot running on the pitch from first base, Díaz singled through a vacant second-base position — with Enmanuel Valdez heading over to cover the bag — and into right-center.
Margot raced around to score and Díaz headed for second on the throw to the plate. Boston catcher Connor Wong fired wide of second, and the ball sailed into an open area in center field with all three Red Sox outfielders scampering to get it. By the time Verdugo retrieved it and fired toward the plate, Díaz scored standing up to make it 6-2.
“Put pressure on the defense. Took a little while for them to get to the ball after Yandy kind of dribbled it past the second baseman, and a lot of things kind of went in our favor,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “It was a pretty unique play. You don’t see that very often.”
Díaz knew he had an excellent chance to score when Wong’s throw went sailing past second.
“When I didn’t see anybody in center field when they threw the ball over there, that’s when I knew I was going to score,” he said through a translator. “Just like you said, it was a crazy play.”
Boston manager Alex Cora was upset with his team’s defense and thought back to last season’s last-place finish.
“I’ve seen that play too many times in the last two years,” he said. “You’ve got to throw the ball to the right base. You’ve got to back up. You cannot become a spectator. It’s just not good baseball.”
Verdugo took the blame for allowing the first runner to score on the play.
“We had nobody backing it up. We were out of position,” he said. “It started off with me. I couldn’t see the ball. It was a bad read.”
Rays rookie starter Taj Bradley (4-2) gave up two runs and six hits with six strikeouts in five innings.
Tampa Bay also scored another run on an error when Margot’s fourth-inning RBI single led to two runs as left fielder Masataka Yoshida bobbled the ball, allowing Isaac Paredes to come home for a 3-1 lead.
Red Sox starter Tanner Houck (3-5) allowed four runs and five hits with six strikeouts and four walks over five innings.
“At the end, it’s on me. I’m the manager of this club,” Cora said. “It’s sloppy. I’m the manager of this team and defensively we’re not good.”
Rays: Raley was in the lineup after having Saturday off due to a mild intercostal strain. … Margot was back in the outfield after running hard into the wall Saturday while trying to make a catch. “I would anticipate he was going to be pretty sore,” Cash said before the game. … Jose Siri was scratched with right shoulder discomfort and Brandon Lowe with what was announced as left leg discomfort, but Cash said after the game that Lowe’s back “locked up.”
Red Sox: Placed left-hander Joely Rodriguez on the 15-day injured list with left shoulder inflammation.
KEEP ON RUNNING
The Rays extended their club record to 30 straight successful stolen base attempts when Josh Lowe swiped his 14th in the fifth inning.
The Red Sox made a couple of moves with their bullpen after putting Rodriguez on the IL. They recalled right-hander Kaleb Ort and left-hander Brennan Bernardino from Triple-A Worcester, and sent down lefty Ryan Sherriff.
The Rays adjusted their starting lineup twice not long before the game. First, they removed Siri and inserted Margot. Then, they took out Brandon Lowe and moved outfielder Josh Lowe into the same spot in the batting order, shifting a couple of fielding positions.
“It was a little hectic,” Cash said. “I think we sent three different lineups over today.”
Tampa Bay LHP Shane McClanahan (8-1, 2.07 ERA) starts the series finale Monday afternoon against RHP Brayan Bello (3-3, 3.89 ERA) in the makeup of Friday’s rainout.
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