Rays win after a wild ninth
[Scott Kazmir congratulates J.P. Howell after Howell came in for Troy Percival in the ninth and closed out the 5-4 win. James Borchuck, Times]
ST. PETERSBURG – Rays starter James Shields was sharp, and Gabe Gross delivered a key two-run homer to lift the Rays to a 5-4 win over the Red Sox Monday night. (View photo gallery)
In one of the biggest games ever played at the Trop, the Rays took advantage of timely hitting (two, two-out homers) and held on after an adventurous ninth to move 1.5 games ahead of Boston in the American League East.
B.J. Upton gave the Rays a 1-0 lead in the first with a homer to centerfield. After Mike Lowell added an RBI single in the fourth, Gross answered with a two-run blast in the bottom half, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead.
The Rays held a 5-2 entering the ninth, when it got interesting. Closer Troy Percival struck out Manny Ramirez, but Lowell hit a double, and advanced on an infield single by Kevin Youkilis. On a weird play, Brandon Moss hit a catwalk in rightfield, which dropped in for an RBI double.
A Jason Varitek sacrifice fly made it 5-4 before Percival was pulled after a spirited discussion with manager Joe Maddon on the mound. With the tying run on third, lefty J.P. Howell got ex-Ray Julio Lugo to line out to shortstop Jason Bartlett to end the game.
-- JOE SMITH