By Peter Abraham
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — When the Red Sox scored six runs in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays on Monday night, it set up what should have been an enjoyable game.
Extra-inning drama and the longest game of the season was the result.
The game lasted 5 hours and 24 minutes.
Franklin Morales, who was scheduled to start Wednesday, got the win with two scoreless innings of relief. He was the seventh Red Sox reliever.
“Thankfully it turned out as a win,” said manager John Farrell.
The Sox have won three straight and seven of their last nine. At 40-25, this is their best record after 65 games since 2007. The Sox are 6-1 against the Rays this season.
Shane Victorino singled off Cesar Ramos (1-2) to start the 14th. He alertly tagged up and went to second when Dustin Pedroia hit a fly ball to the right-field corner. David Ortiz was then intentionally walked.
Nava had a broken-bat single over shortstop to give the Sox the lead. Saltalamacchia, who was 4 for 7 with three RBIs, singled to left field and pinch runner Jose Iglesias scored.
“What a night by Salty, who continued to come up big,” said Farrell.
Koji Uehara, who threw 31 pitches Sunday and was supposed to have the day off, pitched two perfect innings before Morales (2-0) handled the Rays from there.
Red Sox reliever Junichi Tazawa took a 6-5 lead into the eighth inning and got one out before Yunel Escobar doubled to the gap in left field. He advanced to third on a groundout.
With two outs, Tazawa threw a fastball so far inside that it went past Saltalamacchia to the backstop. Saltalamacchia flipped the ball to Tazawa covering the plate but Escobar slid under the tag to tie the game.
Ben Zobrist doubled but was stranded when Kelly Johnson popped up in the infield and Pedroia made a sliding catch after none of his teammates called for the ball.
The alert play saved a run at the time.
Saltalamacchia’s two-run single off Ray closer Fernando Rodney gave the Sox an 8-6 lead in the top of the 10th inning. But Sox closer Andrew Bailey was beaten up badly in the bottom of the inning.
Jose Lobaton started the inning with a home run to right field. Bailey then walked Escobar and Matt Joyce before Zobrist (5 of 7) singled sharply to right field.
Johnson walked to force in the tying run. Evan Longoria then grounded into a double play. Pinch hitter Sam Fuld tried to win the game with a bunt single but Pedroia swooped in and made the play.
“An acrobatic and outstanding play by Dustin,” Farrell said.
The Sox had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 11th. But with Jacoby Ellsbury on third, Pedroia was called on strikes to end the inning. He heatedly argued with umpire Tom Hallion, to a point where manager John Farrell had to intercede.
The first eight Red Sox reached base in the first inning against Rays starter Alex Cobb and six of them scored. That hadn’t happened since June 27, 2003, when the first 11 Sox reached against the Florida Marlins.
Ellsbury led off with a single, grounding the eighth pitch he saw into center field.
Victorino followed with a hot shot down the first base line. James Loney had the ball go under his glove. Instead of what could have been a double play, Victorino had a double.
Pedroia singled to center to drive in two runs. That extended his hit streak to 14 games. After Ortiz walked, Nava lined a pitch off the wall in left-center for an RBI double.
Mike Carp, playing at first base for a resting Mike Napoli, singled to left to drive in two more runs. That gave Carp 11 RBIs in his last nine games.
Saltalamacchia doubled to left field, pushing Carp to third base. Will Middlebrooks, activated off the disabled list earlier in the day, singled to left to make it 6-0.
The inning finally ended when Stephen Drew popped out and Ellsbury grounded into a double play. Cobb threw 38 pitches in the inning. He threw 6⅓ shutout innings against the Sox on May 16.
Cobb went four innings and didn’t allow another hit. Alex Torres then shut the Red Sox down for two innings.
John Lackey took a six-run lead to the mound. But his outing was anything but a Florida vacation.
Lackey allowed four runs on 10 hits and didn’t get out of the sixth inning. He left with a 6-4 lead.
Joyce and Longoria had solo home runs in the first inning. Three singles and a fielder’s choice by Luke Scott gave the Rays a run in the third inning.
Zobrist had an RBI single in the fourth inning. The Rays again left two runners on base.
Lackey settled in a bit from there and had retired seven straight when Joyce came to the plate in the sixth. Lackey’s second pitch was a fastball that hit Joyce in the back.
Joyce flipped his bat after belting a long foul ball in the second inning and Lackey had some words at the time. This time, Joyce pointed at Lackey and when he took a step toward the mound, Saltalamacchia got in his way.
The benches cleared but no punches were thrown. Lackey then allowed a double by Zobrist and was taken out of the game after 93 pitches.
As Lackey walked back to the dugout, Joyce yelled at him. Third base coach Tom Foley stepped in front of him to maintain the peace.
Andrew Miller started the seventh inning and allowed a long home run to right field by Loney. He has eight home runs and 34 RBIs this season, a year after he hit six home runs and drove 41 runs for the Dodgers and Red Sox.
Scott followed the home run with a blast to right-center that Victorino ran down at the wall. Farrell quickly got out to the mound to take Miller out. Tazawa finished the inning.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.