Jonny Gomes bailed Andrew Bailey out.
Only a routine delivery in the ninth inning by the Red Sox closer stood in the way of doubleheader sweep of the Rays on Tuesday night. Bailey followed a tremendous performance by Felix Doubront (eight innings, three hits, six strikeouts), who left with a 1-0 lead. Bailey stumbled badly, allowing a game-tying home run to leadoff man Kelly Johnson.
But in the bottom of the ninth, Gomes blasted a two-run homer into the Monster seats for a 3-1 walkoff win.
Daniel Nava worked a walk off reliever Joel Peralta before Gomes struck on the first pitch from the righty reliever.
It was a day full of last-minute escapes. Alfredo Aceves arrived late to the ballpark Tuesday afternoon after he was caught in traffic, but pitched well in a 5-1 win in Game 1.
The Red Sox dominated on both sides of a rain delay that lasted a minute shy of three hours as they won for the eighth time in 10 meetings this season.
David Ortiz was the big player in the first game with three RBIs, a two-run single to center in the third inning and a single to right in the fifth before the mammoth rain delay.
The Red Sox scored first off Rays starter Chris Archer, an animated righty whose traits are reminiscent of former Red Sox righty Oil Can Boyd. Leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury (three hits) doubled, advanced on a long fly ball to center by Shane Victorino, and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s sacrifice fly.
Victorino also had a big game with a single, triple, RBI, stolen base, and two runs scored
Archer, who walked five in 4⅔ innings, flirted with trouble as he sprinkled three walks among a double play by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Aceves (4-1), who has now made three decent starts while going back and forth from Pawtucket, got a little walk-happy himself in the second inning when he started the inning by losing Evan Longoria and James Loney. With one out, Luke Scott doubled in the tying run, but, after issuing a third walk, Aceves got out of it when Yuniel Escobar bailed him out with a double-play grounder to shortstop.
It was a third straight good “emergency” outing for Aceves, who barely made it to Fenway on time, according to manager John Farrell.
“He’s not a guy that reports to the clubhouse early to begin with, and he was a little delayed,” Farrell said. “But he had ample time to get loose inside and go out and throw his 25 pitches of warm-up.
“Much like we’ve talked about the unstructured ability to perform, today he was at it.”
“The breakthrough for Boston came in the third inning. Again, it was Ellsbury starting things off with a single and Victorino sending a single to right and Ellsbury to third. After Victorino stole second base, Ortiz delivered with a one-out single up the middle to score both runners.
Ortiz had been upset with himself recently after a 3-for-26 road trip. After his first at-bat in the first, an inning-ending pop to left, he came back to the dugout a threw his helmet hard against the helmet rack.
“A solid performance by the hitters all the way around,” said Farrell. “David beat the shift and picked up a big RBI for us. We did a great job offensively with some big hits.”
The frustration seemed to leave him after that at-bat, and even more so when he drove in the Red Sox’ fourth run in the fifth inning. His single to right field scored Victorino, who had reached on a throwing error by Loney at first and moved up on Pedroia’s walk.
Aceves was long gone after the delay, but Junichi Tazawa came on with some dominating stuff in the sixth. He set the tone by striking out Red Sox killer Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria before retiring Loney on a liner to left field.
In the bottom half, Ellsbury and Victorino, seemingly energized by the long delay, hit back-to-back triples into the right field corner to produce the fifth Red Sox run.
“We came back with a good frame of mind and a good approach at the plate,” Farrell said. “The relievers did a nice job coming back after the rain delay and focusing on finishing the game. Good all around job by everyone.”
Farrell said the team was loose during the rain delay. The teams were told the delay would be at least two hours. He said the players got away from the game and just had some fun in the clubhouse. It seemed to loosen up the team a little after a tough series against Baltimore in which it lost three out of four.
Certainly a different story against Tampa Bay, which was hoping to get a boost from the debut of Will Myers, who was a big piece of the James Shields deal with Kansas City. Myers, who was leading all of Triple A with 57 RBIs, had a rough first game, going 0 for 4. He was also in the lineup for Game 2 in right field.Nick Cafardo can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @nickcafardo.