ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Tampa Bay’s Steven Souza Jr. rounded first base, stopped and stared in amazement.
Andrew Benintendi’s home run-saving catch in the left-field corner not only preserved a three-run lead for Boston, but helped Red Sox ace David Price finish a dominant performance against his old team in a 6-2 victory Monday night.
The Rays had just two hits over eight scoreless innings against their ex-teammate but avoided a shutout when Evan Longoria hit a two-run homer off Matt Barnes in the ninth.
“He gave us plenty of pitches to hit but we just missed a lot of them, didn’t capitalize on the mistakes that he made,” Souza said. “He got into a rhythm. He mixed locations up pretty good. He was throwing his changeup the way he wanted to.”
Price (12-8) walked two, struck out eight and didn’t allow a runner past first base while extending Tampa Bay’s scoring drought against Boston to 25 innings dating to a series at Fenway Park before the All-Star break.
Longoria stopped the streak with his 29th homer.
But it was Souza’s near homer that was the hot topic of discussion after the game.
Benintendi, who drove in a run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly, kept Price’s bid for a shutout alive by robbing Souza of what would have been a two-run homer with a running catch that nearly sent him tumbling over a short wall.
“That was an unbelievable play,” Souza said. “He ran a long way, was at full speed. And then to go over and hold on to the ball, it was pretty impressive.”
The victory was the ninth in 11 games for the Red Sox and lifted them into a tie with Toronto for first place in the AL East.
Chris Young returned from a two-month stay on the disabled list to drive in a run with a double off Blake Snell (4-6), Hanley Ramirez had a sacrifice fly in the seventh and Xander Bogaerts added a two-run homer off Danny Farquhar in the ninth.
Price, who also pitched eight scoreless innings against his former team during a 4-0 victory in Boston on July 10, won for the first time as a visitor in four decisions at Tropicana Field.
Snell, who got his first big league win against the Red Sox on June 27, threw 94 pitches and allowed four hits and five walks in 3 2/3 innings, yet Boston was only able to build a 2-0 lead against the 23-year-old rookie.
“Blake just kind of struggled to find the zone again, drove his pitch count up,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
“Offensively, obviously we were pretty quiet there until the end,” Cash added. “It looked like Price had good stuff. We probably got some pitches to hit that we just missed. It was a really strong start by David Price.”
Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier (left hip soreness) was in the lineup after not starting the previous two games. … RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) made his sixth rehab start, allowing five runs, nine hits and walking two for Triple-A Durham at Norfolk.
Red Sox: RHP Clay Buchholz (4-9, 5.42 ERA) gets the start. Last Thursday, he allowed one run and six hits over six innings but was not involved in the decision of a 4-3 loss at Detroit. Buchholz has a 2.63 career ERA against Tampa Bay, second-lowest among active pitchers with a minimum of 10 starts vs. the Rays.
Rays: AL strikeout leader Chris Archer (7-16, 4.18) makes his fourth start of the season against the Red Sox. He leads the majors in losses, but is 3-4 with a 3.06 ERA in seven outings since the All-Star break. He’s 0-3 against Boston this year, 1-9 with a 5.82 ERA in 14 career starts.
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