- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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Pinch hitting with one on in the bottom of the ninth, Red Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a walk-off two-run homer to lift the Sox over the Rays, 3-2. He crushed a 0-1 offering off Rays closer Fernando Rodney into the Red Sox bullpen for the win. It was his first career walk-off homer.
Josh Beckett made his presence felt in this game, too.
The right-hander worked seven innings and allowed only two runs on four hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
Rays starter David Price went seven innings, allowing just one run on eight hits with three walks and five strikeouts. The left-hander threw 115 pitches (70 strikes).
Beckett retired the first seven batters he faced before Rays catcher Jose Molina provided Tampa’s first hit of the game with one out in the top of the third inning. Beckett settled back in and retired the next 11 batters.
With Boston holding a 1-0 lead, the Rays scored two runs in the top of the seventh inning to gain a 2-1 advantage, which they held until Salty’s heroics.
Beckett surrendered back-to-back singles to lead off the seventh, and with runners on the corners, the Rays’ Ben Zobrist lifted a fly ball to left field. Tampa’s B.J. Upton was tagging from third and there was no chance Red Sox outfielder Daniel Nava would be able to throw him out. His throw should have gone to second in order to keep the would-be go-ahead run at first. Instead, Nava gave it a bid and made the throw to the plate. Upton easily scored to tie the game at 1-1 and teammate Matt Joyce advanced to second easily.
Luke Scott then provided a RBI single to give Tampa the one-run lead.
The Sox threatened in the bottom of the seventh when catcher Kelly Shoppach led off with a double, but was ultimately left stranded.
PINCH-DECISION: Prior to Saturday’s game, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine called his lineup with Adrian Gonzalez in right, Kevin Youkilis at first and Will Middlebrooks at third not a perfect situation. Of course, the Sox manager would like all those bats in his lineup, so that’s why he’s going with it. However, he decided to pinch-run for Gonzalez in the bottom of the sixth inning with Boston holding a 1-0 lead. Che-Hsuan Lin was inserted into the game for Gonzalez and when the fifth spot in the batting order came around in the bottom of the eighth inning, Scott Podsednik served as a pinch-hitter for Lin. Podsednik popped up to third base for the second out of the inning.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: During his first round of batting practice prior to Saturday’s game, Red Sox DH David Ortiz was working on hitting the ball to the opposite field. It paid off. He beat the dreaded shift with a base hit through the hole on the left side of the infield in the sixth inning, which put runners on first and second. It proved crucial because Ortiz later scored Boston’s first run after Dustin Pedroia was tossed out on a previous play at home plate.