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Boston Red Sox defeat Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on walkoff homer in ninth

BOSTON — The noise started coming early Saturday from the home side of Fenway Park, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine firing insults at the Rays coaching staff in response to Friday's festivities.

But that was nothing like the roar at the end of the night, the Sox celebrating a 3-2 victory on Jarrod Saltalamacchia's pinch-hit, two-run walkoff homer off Fernando Rodney that left the Rays stunned.

"This was definitely a game we wanted to win," Rays starter David Price said. "We want to win every game, so we put the same emphasis on every game. But this was definitely a big game after what happened (Friday)."

The defeat was hard enough to take given how well the Rays (28-19) had played.

Price worked seven solid innings. Birthday boy Ben Zobrist and Friday hit-by-pitch victim Luke Scott each drove in runs as they rallied in the seventh against Josh Beckett. And centerfielder B.J. Upton threw out a runner at the plate.

"A really, really good baseball game," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "They beat us in the ninth inning. That can happen in this ballpark."

But the shock was how it happened as Rodney had been so dominating, converting his first 15 save chances — seeking Saturday to tie the team record — and allowing only one earned run (and no homers since April 2011).

But, as the Sox talked about him blowing his first, Rodney gave up a leadoff walk to Daniel Nava then, after a bunt, left an 0-and-1 fastball — albeit 97 mph — over the plate, and Saltalamacchia launched it over the rightfield fence.

"Not exactly where I wanted it. It stayed right in the middle," Rodney said. "You know when you make a mistake here, you have to pay."

Rodney took it well, pausing in the clubhouse for a quick man-hug from Maddon.

"Fernando's been fabulous, and he's going to continue to be fabulous for us," Maddon said.

The Sox certainly enjoyed their first walkoff.

"It really was a happy scene,'' Valentine said. "(Friday) might have brought the team together.''

Realistically, Rodney said, he probably wasn't going to stay perfect.

"I know someday that was going to happen to me, and it happened tonight," he said. "Tomorrow is the next day."

After Valentine's volleys and a somewhat subtle jab back by Maddon, the game was played without incident, a major question going in after the flared tempers and emptied benches the night before. Umpire Ed Rapuano visited with each manager during pregame but did not issue a warning.

Price, who won the poll among Fox TV viewers for the best Thursday nerd outfit, was in position for his seventh win. He was not economical, throwing 115 pitches, but effective, taking a shutout into the sixth.

He was helped most dramatically in that inning by Upton, who fired a one-bounce bullet to the plate for his AL-leading fifth assist to nail Dustin Pedroia, who looked to be scoring easily from second on Adrian Gonzalez's single, Jose Molina applying a tricky tag.

"Play of the game," Price said.

The Sox broke through with a run right after that. The Rays came back with two against Beckett, who has been tormenting them for years, not having lost at home to them since September 2006 and 4-0, 1.08 in his past seven overall against them.

But all that changed when Rodney misfired on a fastball.

And on this night, the Sox had the last word.

Red Sox 3

Rays 2

Boston Red Sox defeat Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on walkoff homer in ninth 05/26/12 [Last modified: Sunday, May 27, 2012 12:28am]
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