ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — David Price was good, even better because of a rookie’s nifty glove work.
Boston’s ace won his third straight decision Monday night, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 with a huge assist from Andrew Benintendi’s home run-robbing catch that helped Price limit his old team to just two hits over eight scoreless innings.
Price (12-8) walked two, struck out eight and didn’t allow a runner past first base in helping the Red Sox win for the ninth time in 11 games and nudge into in a tie for first place in the AL East with Toronto.
Benintendi drove in a run with a fourth-inning sacrifice fly, then kept Price’s bid for a shutout alive by denying Steven Souza Jr. what would have been a two-run homer with an eighth-inning catch that nearly sent him tumbling over a short wall in the left-field corner.
“That’s a highlight-reel play at a pivotal time in the game,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “David was outstanding. But in a three-run game, that late, take away a two-run homer, it’s a huge difference in the ball game.”
The defensive gem enabled Price to extend Tampa Bay’s scoring drought against Boston to 25 innings dating to a series at Fenway Park before the All-Star break. Evan Longoria stopped the streak with a two-run homer off Matt Barnes in the ninth.
“I think that’s the best catch I’ve made. I’ve never really had the opportunity to do that,” Benintendi said. “I knew that it was going to go out. I was just trying to time it and I was fortunate enough to finish with it.”
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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.
“I had a lot of good things happen,” said Price, the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner who helped the Rays make the playoffs four times before being traded in 2014. “With Benny, and the catch he made to rob a home run, I spent seven years here and I didn’t see that catch too many times. It doesn’t happen a whole lot. That was huge.”
Benintendi started the game in center field. He moved to left after Young was removed for pinch-runner Jackie Bradley Jr. in the eighth. The maneuvering looked like a stroke of genius when Benintendi chased down Souza’s fly ball in the corner and made a running catch before nearly flipping over the 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.”
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.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (left hamstring) will throw a three-inning simulated game Tuesday. “It’s not so much to answer the physical side of it, but it’s for him to test it at the higher intensity and for him to gain some comfort mentally,” Farrell said. … Knuckleballer Steven Wright (right shoulder strain) will have a bullpen session Tuesday. If all goes well, there’s a chance he could start Friday night against Kansas City. … RHP Koji Uehara (right pectoral strain) will throw off a mound for the first time Tuesday.
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.
To make room for Young, who missed 51 games with a hamstring injury, the Red Sox optioned LHP Henry Owens to Triple-A Pawtucket.
LHP Jason Groome, taken by Boston in the first round of this year’s amateur draft, allowed one hit and had three strikeouts over two scoreless innings in his first start for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Red Sox against the GCL Rays.
Red Sox: RHP Clay Buchholz (4-9, 5.42 ERA) gets the start, filling in for Wright. 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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