Red Sox retake first from Rays 5-1

BOSTON — The Red Sox are, like the Rays, known as one of the most aggressive baserunning teams in the majors.

But in a showdown between the AL East's top teams Wednesday night, Rays manager Joe Maddon said one Boston player in particular took a slide too far.

Josh Beckett delivered a strong pitching performance in a 5-1 win victory over Tampa Bay, handing the Rays their fifth straight loss at Fenway and dropping them from first place for the first time in 10 days. However, what likely caught the eyes of the national cable audience and 37,474 at Fenway Park — and drew the ire of Maddon — was what appeared to be a retaliatory play by Coco Crisp.

Maddon took issue with Crisp's hard slide during a stolen-base attempt in the eighth; Crisp's spikes appeared to hit Akinori Iwamura's feet and his elbow landed near Iwamura's midsection. As a result, Iwamura was knocked off the bag and a fuming Maddon came out of the dugout.

Crisp told reporters he was upset by a "little shady" play in the sixth by Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett, whom he said dropped his knee down while Crisp dove headfirst into second, jamming Crisp's left thumb. Crisp said he warned Bartlett that he would "show him how I felt about it" if he got on base again. But when asked if he was intending to hurt Iwamura, Crisp replied, "If I was intending to injure him, I wouldn't have slid at all."

Bartlett declined to comment.

"I was not pleased with the slide," Maddon said. "I totally felt there was intent to hurt our middle infielder, and that's what I was upset with. … There's no place for that when you intentionally try to hurt somebody."

Overall, Maddon was pleased with the Rays' (35-24) effort, including the pitching performance of Edwin Jackson. The hard-throwing right-hander retired his first six batters. He was off-and-on during his five-inning stint, giving up four runs and hurting himself with an error and wild pitch. It was the fifth straight time this season a Rays starter couldn't finish six innings at Fenway (all losses).

The Red Sox, who won their 12th straight home game, did most of their damage in a three-run third. Jackson committed a throwing error when he tried to pick off Jacoby Ellsbury at first. Dustin Pedroia made Jackson pay with an RBI double, and Manny Ramirez added an RBI single.

The Rays' offensive spark came from Eric Hinske, who was filling in at first base for the injured Carlos Pena, put on the 15-day disabled list in the afternoon with a broken finger. Hinske doubled and stole third in the second before getting stranded, and singled in a run in the fourth.

Other than that, Rays hitters were quiet, striking out 10 times. B.J. Upton argued a called third strike and was ejected in the eighth. Upton tossed his helmet in frustration, which summarized the night's events.

"Standing (up) for your team, your players and what's right," Maddon said of his reaction to Crisp's slide. "There's right and there's wrong and that was wrong. It was very simple to me."

Joe Smith can be reached at
joesmith@sptimes.com.

Red Sox retake first from Rays 5-1 06/04/08 [Last modified: Friday, June 6, 2008 4:49pm]

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