Red Sox rally in 9th for 3-2 win over Rays

Boston Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia, center, celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Boston, Saturday, May 26, 2012.
Michael Dwyer | AP
Boston Red Sox's Jarrod Saltalamacchia, center, celebrates with teammates after hitting a two-run home run to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 in the ninth inning of a baseball game in Boston, Saturday, May 26, 2012.
Posted May 26, 2012, at 11:08 p.m.

BOSTON — Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a pinch-hit, two-run homer off Fernando Rodney with one out in the ninth inning to lift the Boston Red Sox to a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday night.

Daniel Nava walked to open the ninth and Nick Punto sacrificed before Saltalamacchia lofted a high drive to right-center for Boston’s 11th win in 15 games.

Rodney (2-1) had converted his first 15 save chances.

Rich Hill (1-0) worked one inning for the win.

A night after the teams had a testy benches-clearing scrum in the ninth inning that turned into an exchange of words between the managers that lingered into Saturday, the teams played a taught game highlighted by the pitching of aces Josh Beckett and David Price — and a throw by B.J. Upton.

Boston’s Beckett and Tampa Bay’s Price each pitched seven impressive.

Ben Zobrist hit a sacrifice fly and Luke Scott then put the Rays up 2-1 in the seventh with an RBI single. Tampa Bay had its three-game winning streak snapped.

Will Middlebrooks drove in Boston’s first run with a sixth-inning single. But before that Upton made a strong throw home to nail Dustin Pedroia at the plate.

Price scattered eight hits — seven singles — struck out five and walked three in a 115-pitch effort.

Despite pregame accusations by Boston manager Bobby Valentine that the Rays’ coaches were “unprofessional” for their actions and that they “were agitating, aggravating, and instigating the situation,” this game had no sign of the testiness that came late in Friday’s 7-4 win by the Rays when the benches cleared after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales hit Scott in the right leg.

Trailing 1-0 and with only one single against Beckett in the first six innings, the Rays collected three hits and grabbed a 2-1 lead in the seventh. Ben Zobrist’s sacrifice fly tied it after Upton singled and advanced on Matt Joyce’s single. Scott then followed with his run-scoring single through a shifted infield. Beckett did end the inning by striking out Jose Molina.

Price got David Ortiz, the final batter he faced, on a bouncer to short with runners on first and third.

Beckett gave up two runs, four hits, while striking out five and not walking anyone. He had won his last two starts, allowing just one run in 14 2-3 innings.

The Red Sox had taken a 1-0 lead in the sixth. After Pedroia was cut down at the plate by center fielder Upton’s throw on Adrian Gonzalez’s single, Middlebrooks hit a hard grounder up the middle that took a tough hop on second baseman Sean Rodriguez, who was near the edge of the grass and behind the bag.

Pedroia had walked leading off and moved to second when Ortiz singled through a shifted infield to left.

NOTES: Gonzalez started in right field in Fenway Park for the first time, but didn’t get any chances. … Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The Red Sox are celebrating Fenway’s memorable moments during its 100th year and the club honored Fisk for his 12th inning homer of the left field pole in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series. … Rays manager Joe Maddon waited to put up his lineup until checking to see how Scott’s right knee was feeling. … Scott hardly looked bothered by the attention he got Friday night, coming into the dugout and smiling before he went out to stretch before the Rays took batting practice. … The Red Sox showed highlights on the center field scoreboard of early action of Game 7 of the playoff game between the Celtics-76ers played about 3 miles away at TD Garden. … Marlon Byrd made a nice running catch on the left-center field track. … Boston OF Ryan Sweeney, on the 7-day DL with a concussion, looked good going back shagging fly balls in BP. He’s eligible to come off Monday.

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