ST. PETERSBURG — Will Rhymes sat in his locker late Wednesday night and laughed that he was fortunate.
He had just gone through one of the scariest moments in the Rays' seemingly endless string of injuries, passing out on the field after being hit on the right forearm with a pitch, and came out of it with only a bruise.
"Right now, I feel lucky," Rhymes said. "I feel extremely lucky it's not fractured. … But it does feel like we have a little curse going on. I hope it stops. I hope we can get healthy, stay healthy and have a chance to go out and play."
Despite the significant scare, and the loss earlier of outfielder Brandon Guyer to a shoulder strain, the Rays felt pretty good at the end of the night. They beat the Red Sox 2-1 for their fourth straight win and remained tied for first place with an American League-best 24-14 record.
They won with a solid start from Jeremy Hellickson and quality relief work, scoring one run on a balk, one of three by Boston pitchers, and the other on a sacrifice fly, with the assistance of Red Sox rightfielder Cody Ross' misjudgment.
But, as they have throughout this rough run, they won, in front of 20,843.
"It's pouring right now," manager Joe Maddon said. "But our guys, we've got the umbrellas up. We're doing okay."
Said Matt Joyce: "It kind of seems like there's an epidemic."
And B.J. Upton: "It's almost like day in and day out, there's something going on. Non-stop. It's unreal."
Guyer became the ninth player on the disabled list, and Rhymes, who has stepped in nicely at second as the Rays have adjusted their infield to compensate for the loss of Evan Longoria, was certain he would be next when he was hit by a Franklin Morales pitch in the eighth inning.
"It literally hit me as hard on the bone, pretty much, as you can be hit. I was like, 'That's broken,' " Rhymes said. "I'm shocked (X-rays are negative)."
He ended up with a nasty bruise that may sideline him for a few days. What happened after he went to first base looked much more serious.
Rhymes told Maddon and assistant athletic trainer Paul Harker he could at least run the bases, but after a few moments at first base he realized something was wrong. He took a few steps toward the dugout, collapsed and passed out, the result of what the Rays said later was "an adrenaline rush." He came to after a few moments, unsure of how long he was out — "I don't know. You'd have to ask someone who was there" — and was taken off the field on a cart.
Personnel in both dugouts were concerned. "My heart stopped," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "That was not a good sight. That was scary."
Though maybe not quite as bad as it looked. When paramedics, as part of routine work, asked who he was, Rhymes said, "I told them I was Batman just to mess with them."
The victory was a team effort. Hellickson worked six solid innings and the bullpen was impressive behind him, Jake McGee getting a big ground ball for a double play; Joel Peralta setting down Sox sluggers Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Adrian Gonzalez in the eighth; and Fernando Rodney finishing for his 12th save.
After the teams traded early runs, Joyce did most of the work in putting the Rays ahead 2-1, hustling to first to beat out an infield single when his ground ball caromed off starter Clay Buchholz's right foot, then racing home from third to score on Luke Scott's fly to somewhat shallow right. In between, Carlos Peña laced a single to right that moved Joyce from first to third.
The Rays benefitted from some homefield advantage as Ross had trouble tracking Scott's fly ball and was not in a good position to make a throw.
Joyce said he wasn't planning to go until he saw Ross start backpedaling. "The Trop can be tough sometimes," he said. "I took a shot and it worked out."
The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the second in a somewhat benign way: a balk by Buchholz. The three balks were the most by an AL team since 1994, when Al Leiter had three for Toronto. Maddon said they all were legitimate balks.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]