Miller homers in 8th, Rays take 3 of 4 from Red Sox
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays made a statement to the American League heading into the All-Star break: Don’t count us out of the playoff race.
Brad Miller hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Rays took three of the four from AL East-leading Boston, beating the Red Sox 5-3 Sunday.
“That felt good,” Miller said. “That was a lot fun.”
Miller connected with two outs off Joe Kelly (3-1), sending a drive over the center field wall. Kelly had made a career-best 23 straight scoreless appearances.
“Wow!” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “What a way to go into the break. That’s pretty exciting, man.”
Brad Boxberger (1-0) worked out of a two-on, two-out jam in the eighth before Alex Colome got three outs for his 25th save.
Tampa Bay, at 47-43, has 13 more wins than last year at the All-Star break and trails the Red Sox by 3 1/2 games.
Boston completed a 10-game road trip at 6-4.
“Losing three against these guys kind of stung a little bit, but hopefully we can come out in the second half and have the same attitude of winning every day and winning series,” Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts said.
Dustin Pedroia hit his second homer in three days and fourth of the year during the seventh off AL All Star Chris Archer, a two-run shot that put Boston up 3-2. It was the fourth time this season that an opponent hit a go-ahead homer against Archer in the sixth or seventh inning.
Mookie Betts homered on Archer’s third pitch of the game to set a Red Sox record with his 11th career leadoff homer.
Tampa Bay tied it at 3 in the seventh on Corey Dickerson’s sacrifice fly.
Archer, who gave up three runs and eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, and one-time Rays ace David Price both had effective starts.
Price allowed two runs and five hits over six innings. He entered with a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak against his former team.
“I still don’t think we’ve played our best baseball yet,” Price said. “I think everybody in this clubhouse understands that.
Steven Souza Jr. hit a leadoff double in the Rays first and scored on Evan Longoria’s single.
Longoria got his 53rd RBI, his most at the All-Star break since 2013 (52), on a third-inning sacrifice fly.
Boston had two on in both the third and fourth but failed to score. Souza made a full-extension diving catch in the fourth on Christian Vazquez’s right-field foul drive.
“Once I closed in on it, I thought I had a legit chance,” Souza said.
Hanley Ramirez, who failed to tag up at second on Souza’s catch, was doubled up at first in the sixth after Dickerson made a leaping catch at the left-field wall on fly ball by Jackie Bradley Jr.
The Red Sox are first in the AL East at the All-Star break for the first time since 2013. Under the current 10-team playoff setup, all five of the AL East leaders entering the break have reached the postseason.
Archer ducked and fell to the ground to avoid Pedroia’s line single to center in the fifth. He lost his glove on the play.
Red Sox: LHP Eduardo Rodriguez (right knee) allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings in his third rehab appearance at Triple-A Pawtucket and is scheduled to start against Toronto on July 17. ... INF Brock Holt (vertigo) is nearing a return but will remain with Triple-A Pawtucket this week.
Rays: SS Adeiny Hechavarria was out of the lineup due to a groin injury but entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth.
Red Sox: Betts, LHP Chris Sale and RHP Craig Kimbrel will participate in Tuesday night’s All-Star Game in Miami.
Rays: Dickerson will join Archer at the All-Star Game. Cash will be the AL bench coach.