ST. PETERSBURG — The 10th-inning bases-loaded single that gave the Rays a 2-1 walkoff win over the Giants on Saturday night was the easy part for rookie Wil Myers.
Then he faced a much more challenging task, navigating an onfield celebration among his teammates that included being punched, smacked and partially undressed, having a cooler of water poured on him, then two towels full of shaving cream shoved in his face.
"The celebration was pretty crazy," Myers said. "That was the first time I've had anything like that before. It's pretty fun."
Myers' hit capped a tense and ultimately thrilling night before a roaring Tropicana Field crowd of 31,969, third largest of the season, as the Rays started the day last in the majors in attendance.
They got nine impressive innings from David Price and another edge-of-your-seat escape act from Fernando Rodney in snapping a two-game losing streak that seemed longer, improving to 65-45 and remaining one game behind the Red Sox in the American League East race.
"That was a huge win for us," Price said.
Myers was in a good position to win it due to some bad pitching by Giants reliever Jean Machi, who walked Desmond Jennings, then after a stolen base put Ben Zobrist on intentionally and walked slumping Evan Longoria.
Manager Joe Maddon said the 22-year-old rookie Myers was not the least bit taken by the situation.
"He does not lack for confidence," Maddon said. "He really wants to be in that moment."
And why not, said Myers, who had his parents down from North Carolina to see his first walkoff hit and 49th overall in 38 career games.
"It's a pretty easy situation to hit in, honestly, bases loaded no outs," he said. "Just put the ball in play up the middle."
Myers was able to do that because of what Price and Rodney did earlier.
Price didn't have the same overpowering fastball, but he had enough, plus a good changeup, to continue his remarkable post-disabled list run, allowing one run on five hits and throwing only 105 pitches, with four innings of 10 or fewer.
"Just executing pitches," he said.
Price is now 5-1, 1.57 in seven starts with one walk since returning, and, in a way, Saturday's outing was the most impressive. "Without having his best night or his best stuff, he still went nine innings," Maddon said.
Rodney rallied after allowing Hunter Pence's leadoff double in the 10th. He struck out the next hitter, caught Pence off second after catching a comebacker, allowed an infield single, then struck out Brandon Crawford to end the threat.
Myers took a ferocious home-run cut at Machi's first pitch — "That was stupid," he allowed — then recalibrated and lined the second to left.
He had barely touched first when the assault began. First the punches and slaps. "It's pretty hard," he said. Then the untucking of his shirt and (partial) pulling down of his pants. "I don't understand that one at all, but whatever," he said.
Yunel Escobar dumped a cooler of water on him. Longoria got him with one dose of shaving cream during his TV interview, then Joel Peralta, pretending to help him clean up, hit him with another during a radio spot.
"It was wild," Myers said.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]bay.com.