Like every team, the Red Sox have had problems with poor calls by umpires this season. But a bizarre eighth inning at Fenway Park on Monday night will not soon be forgotten.
The Red Sox had a chance to tie the game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but poor base running and a missed call led to a 2-1 loss before a crowd of 37,242.
The Sox dropped back into second place, a half-game behind the Rays.
Tampa Bay ace David Price dominated the Sox for seven innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out seven. When the game was delayed for 38 minutes at the start of the eighth inning, Price came back to the mound.
Prince needed eight pitches to strike out Jonny Gomes, coming back from a 3-and-0 count. Rays manager Joe Maddon didn’t like what he saw and called in Joel Peralta.
Ryan Lavarnway doubled off the wall in left and was replaced by pinch runner Daniel Nava. Stephen Drew followed with a line drive to right field, a shot that was clearly over the head of Wil Myers.
But Nava froze near second base and advanced only as far as third base on the double.
When Brandon Snyder hit a fly ball to left field, Sam Fuld made a strong throw to the plate and umpire Jerry Meals called Nava out to end the inning.
Replays showed that Nava slid across the plate well before catcher Jose Molina got his glove around to tag him. The one-hop throw was to the first-base side of the plate.
Red Sox manager John Farrell was ejected in the argument that followed. Nava and third base coach Brian Butterfield also disputed the call ferociously.
Fuld had been inserted in the game as a defensive replacement before the inning and misplayed Lavarnway’s double before saving the Rays with his throw.
Price (6-5) was the winner with Fernando Rodney getting his 26th save.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth inning. After Shane Victorino failed to get a bunt down then lined softly to second. Ellsbury stole second before slumping Dustin Pedroia (3 for his last 39) grounded out.
The Rays walked David Ortiz to get to Mike Napoli. A wild pitch moved Ellsbury and pinch runner Jose Iglesias before Rodney struck out Napoli swinging at a changeup to end the game.
Price faced the Red Sox last Wednesday and allowed one run over nine innings. He struck out four without a walk. In the rematch, which was made possible by Thursday’s game being rained out and rescheduled for Monday, Price was nearly as good before being derailed by the delay.
Total for two games: Two runs over 16⅓ innings.
Price retired 16 of the first 17 batters he faced. The exception came in the second inning when David Ortiz led off with a double that smacked into the wall in left-center.
With a chance to take the lead, the Sox stumbled. Napoli grounded to shortstop, Jonny Gomes popped to center and Ryan Lavarnway grounded to third.
The Sox did not put another runner on base until the sixth inning when Brandon Snyder, starting at third base in place of the slumping Iglesias, hit a ball off the Pesky Pole in right.
It was Snyder’s second home run and came on a fastball away that caught too much of the plate. His 302-foot fly ball cut Tampa Bay’s lead to 2-1.
Red Sox starter Felix Doubront lasted only five innings, giving up two runs on eight hits and three walks. He struck out four and threw an inefficient 104 pitches, only 57 for strikes.
Doubront put six runners on base in the first three innings but escaped damage thanks to James Loney and Wil Myers grounding into double plays. But the Rays weren’t denied in the fourth inning.
Yunel Escobar singled and went to third when Jose Molina grounded a full-count fastball into center for a single. Sean Rodriguez, the No. 9 hitter, then hit the line drive that just got over the head of Napoli at first base.
Rodriguez ended up on second base, as the Sox were slow to react. But Doubront escaped further damage when Desmond Jennings lined to right field and Shane Victorino made a running catch coming in.
Evan Longoria started the fifth inning with a blast to center that could have been caught. But Jacoby Ellsbury took a roundabout route to the ball and it landed for a ground-rule double.
Ben Zobrist singled, driving Longoria to third. A run scored when Myers grounded into a force at second.
Righthander Jose De La Torre started the sixth inning for the Sox. He walked Molina before Rodriguez singled. De La Torre then struck out Jennings, Longoria, and Zobrist to end the inning, getting what had been a sleepy crowd to come to life.
When De La Torre walked Myers to start the seventh inning, Red Sox manager John Farrell went to intriguing rookie lefthander Drake Britton.
Britton left a fastball over the plate that Luke Scott hammered to right field. Victorino, with his back up against the bullpen well, reached up and pulled the ball back. Escobar then grounded into a double play that Snyder started.
Britton stayed in for the eighth inning and retired the side in order to keep the Sox within a run.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.