ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Now the two biggest hits of Dan Johnson’s career have come against the Boston Red Sox.
Johnson hit a lead-off homer in the 10th inning that gave the Tampa Bay Rays a 3-2 victory Saturday night. On Friday, the Red Sox beat the Rays, 3-1.
He sent a 2-2 pitch from Scott Atchison (2-2) into the right-field stands for his second big homer against the Red Sox in three years. Before Saturday night, Johnson’s most memorable moment was a game-tying homer off closer Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon on Sept. 9, 2008, that keyed an important comeback win en route to Tampa Bay’s AL pennant.
“In the year 2,100, they’re going to be talking about Dan Johnson and what he did against the Red Sox in ’08 and ’10,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s awesome. He has not been a regular player. He made to the big leagues with Oakland. Battled and got back and then he shows up with two of our biggest hits that we’ve had.”
Johnson started this season at Triple-A Durham — after playing in Japan last season — and was recalled on Aug. 2. He was 0 for 3 and had just three hits in his last 35 at-bats before the game-winning drive.
“The moment was special for me after having such a rough night,” Johnson said. “Getting a chance to redeem myself. I was like, please get out. After it did, I was just like relieved.”
Johnson’s key 2008 homer came on the day his contract was purchased from Durham by Tampa Bay. He arrived at game time because of flight delays.
“Maybe it’s just coincidence that both of those have been against the Red Sox,” Johnson said. “The first one, I had no idea what was going on. Deer in the headlights. This one, I’ve been here a while and got some at-bats under me.”
“I don’t care who hits it, it hurts either way,” Boston manager Terry Francona said.
Randy Choate (4-3) retired David Ortiz with a runner on first and two outs in the 10th.
Victor Martinez homered for Boston, which fell 5 and a half games behind the Rays and New York Yankees in both the AL East and wild-card races. Clay Buchholz came up short in a bid for his 16th win, getting a no-decision after giving up two runs and four hits in 7 1-3 innings.
Tampa Bay also got a homer from B.J. Upton. Matt Garza allowed one run and six hits in seven innings.
Boston went ahead 2-1 in the eighth when Martinez hit a solo homer off Joaquin Benoit. The Boston catcher had two homers off AL All-Star starter David Price in Boston’s 3-1 win over the Rays on Friday night.
Upton tied it at 2 in the bottom of the eighth with his solo shot against Buchholz.
Buchholz’s shutout streak ended at 26 innings in the seventh when Tampa Bay tied it at 1. Carlos Pena, who missed 14 games this month with a right foot injury, reached on a fielder’s choice grounder and went to third when Buchholz was charged with an error for an errant pickoff throw. Pena scored when right fielder J.D. Drew made a running catch in foul territory near the wall on Matt Joyce’s sacrifice fly.
“I had every intention of letting it drop and it was just instinct,” said Drew, who had no chance of throwing out Pena at the plate. “I put the glove out right at the last second and it ended up in there.”
Adrian Beltre put the Red Sox up 1-0 in the fourth with a sacrifice fly.
Buchholz got early defensive support from center fielder Ryan Kalish, who made a fully extended diving catch to take away a run-scoring extra-base hit from Upton with two outs in the second.
“It was an intense, well-played game,” Maddon said.
NOTES: Buchholz had won his previous four starts. … Martinez reacted like he fouled a ball off his right lower leg before getting an infield single in the 10th. Maddon said the ball missed the leg and that Martinez did a “tremendous acting job.” … Tampa Bay All-Star LF Carl Crawford was back in the lineup after missing Friday’s game with a stomach virus. … Francona said C Jason Varitek, who has been on the DL since July 1 with a broken right foot, will have his status reviewed in about a week. Varitek is taking batting practice and catching bullpen sessions.