ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rookie Cole Figueroa’s one-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning ended a marathon pitchers’ duel and gave the Tampa Bay Rays a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox on Friday night at Tropicana Field.
Boston’s eighth consecutive loss dropped the Red Sox to 20-27 and into last place in the American League East by percentage points below the Rays (21-28), who won their second consecutive game.
Center fielder Desmond Jennings began the decisive rally with a one-out walk against reliever Andrew Miller. Jennings stole his 11th base of the season on a pitchout, capitalizing on high throws from both new reliever Burke Badenhop and catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Figueroa, who had his first big-league hit on Thursday, registered his first game-winner with a gapper on a 1-2 pitch.
Juan Carlos Oviedo picked up the win to improve to 1-0 and Miller fell to 1-3.
Rays starter Chris Archer set career highs in strikeouts (11) and pitches (119) but lasted just six innings, allowing six hits and four walks.
Although his high pitch count forced Rays manager Joe Maddon to delve into his bullpen early in the game to begin the three-game series, the start was encouraging for Archer. He had not lasted six innings since April 25 and had gone 4 2/3 or less in four consecutively.
At least for one start, he also improved a 1.06 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the last four starts.
Red Sox starter John Lackey lasted a more efficient but eventful seven innings, working out of trouble in the sixth and seventh innings as the Rays placed runners in scoring position with one out.
Lackey retired first baseman James Loney with the potential lead run on third to end the sixth and shortstop Yunel Escobar and catcher Ryan Hanigan to finish the seventh after an error by third baseman Brock Holt began a Rays rally. The veteran returned for the eighth but was removed after allowing a leadoff single to designated hitter David DeJesus.
Lackey allowed five hits and a walk with three strikeouts in seven innings plus a batter, relinquishing two runs or less for the seventh time in nine starts.
NOTES: Red Sox DH David Ortiz broke an 0-for-17 slide with a broken-bat, opposite-field single in the first inning, through a gaping hole in an exaggerated shift. … Boston has used 38 different lineups in 46 games. … Rays 3B Evan Longoria, again hitting out of the second spot in the order, had his first multi-hit game in 11 games.
Blue Jays 3, Athletics 2: Steve Tolleson homered for the first time in nearly two years and Liam Hendriks tossed 5 2/3 strong innings in his season debut as host Toronto downed Oakland in a battle of two American League division leaders.
Tolleson’s first home run since June 10, 2012, was a two-run blast against his former club and proved to be enough for Hendriks (1-0), who allowed a run on three hits and three walks to improve to 3-13 in his career before Casey Janssen worked around a two-out double from Coco Crisp in the ninth inning for his sixth save. Jose Reyes also drove in a run as the Blue Jays won for the ninth time in 11 tries.
Brandon Moss went deep for the second time in three games and Alberto Callaspo added a pinch-hit RBI single for the Athletics, who suffered consecutive defeats for the first time since dropping three in a row from May 5-7. Scott Kazmir (5-2) lost for the first time in six road starts, giving up three runs on five hits over seven frames.
After retiring the side in order in the opening frame, Kazmir fell behind in the second when Tolleson drove a 3-1 inside fastball off the facing of the second deck in left. Kevin Pillar opened the third with a double, moved to third when neither middle infielder covered the bag on Kazmir’s pickoff attempt and came around to score during the same at-bat when Reyes grounded out to second.
Moss made Hendriks pay for his only mistake in the fourth, belting a 3-2 changeup deep into the right-field seats, and Callaspo closed the gap further in the eighth with a hit to shallow center off Brett Cecil to plate Jed Lowrie, who led off the inning with a walk. Cecil stranded a pair of runners by striking out Derek Norris and Janssen left Crisp at third when Jed Lowrie grounded out to end the game.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Oakland 3B Josh Donaldson drew a walk to lead off the sixth to extend his on-base streak in road games to 28, breaking the team record previously held by Eric Chavez in 2005. … The Blue Jays have homered in 26 of their last 31 games and lead the majors with 68. … The Athletics had won eight of the previous 11 meetings in Toronto.