BOSTON – Shane Victorino didn’t even notice Tampa Bay’s unusual five-man infield. His only thought was to make contact with the speedy Jacoby Ellsbury standing on third base.
Victorino had a well-placed RBI single into an overloaded infield in the 10th inning Saturday, lifting the Red Sox to a 2-1 win over the Rays.
Ellsbury singled with one out against Brandon Gomes (0-1), stole second and advanced on catcher Jose Lobaton’s throwing error when the ball deflected off shortstop Yunel Escobar’s glove and into short right field. Victorino then hit a hard grounder into the unusual infield configuration that second baseman Ben Zobrist made a diving stop on to his right, but was unable to make a throw home.
“That’s the goal right there,” a smiling Victorino said. “Just put the ball in play. I’ve been in that spot before.”
Ellsbury knew he’d score easily once the ball got past the pitcher.
“When I saw him dive, I knew I was going to get in,” he said. “It’s probably got to be hit right at someone to have them make a throw.”
David Ross had a solo homer for Boston, which snapped a two-game losing streak.
Red Sox Manager John Farrell said he had the “contact play on” in the 10th, where Ellsbury was breaking on any ball hit on the ground.
“We felt like we had the combination we could take advantage of,” he said.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon felt it was just hit in the wrong spot for his defense.
“The ball was perfect,” he said. “You bisect two guys on the same side of the infield and then furthermore, hit it at the right speed. It’s just very unfortunate for us. But something we work on. They beat us.”
Junichi Tazawa (2-0) pitched one inning for the win, getting out of a jam after giving up a leadoff double to Jose Molina, who was lifted for a pinch runner. Lobaton entered in the bottom of the 10th.
The Rays went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position.
“In my career I’ve noticed early in the season a lot of teams struggle with that,” Tampa Bay’s Shelley Duncan said of his team’s clutch hitting woes. “Sometimes guys press a little more earlier than they do in the middle of the year.”
Boston’s Koji Uehara escaped a ninth-inning jam after closer Joel Hanrahan had his second poor outing this week. Gomes then got Stephen Drew to line out to center field with a pair of runners on, sending it to extra innings.
Hanrahan, who gave up five runs in the ninth of a loss to Baltimore on Wednesday, opened the ninth by walking Evan Longoria and Zobrist. Uehara then struck out pinch-hitter James Loney looking before retiring the next two hitters.
The anticipated matchup of prized lefties, reigning AL Cy Young Award winner David Price and Jon Lester, lived up to its billing.
Lester held the Rays to one run on five hits, walked one and struck out five.
“We had to make a couple of adjustments where I had to get the ball down,” Lester said. “You have those days where you’ve getting the ball up.”
Price, coming off a miserable start when he allowed a career-worst eight runs last Sunday against Cleveland, pitched six innings, allowing just the solo homer to Ross and three other hits, while striking out eight and walking four.
NOTES: Left-hander Franklin Morales is scheduled to make a rehab appearance with the Portland Sea Dogs at Hadlock Field on April 22, Farrell said. Portland plays Binghamton at 6 p.m. that night. Before he comes to Portland, Morales is scheduled for one more outing Wednesday in extended spring training.