Red Sox beat Rays 1-0 in 16 innings

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After a pair of high-scoring games to start the series, the Red Sox and Rays put on a show of offensive ineptitude Sunday night, with Boston winning 1-0 in 16 innings.

It was the longest 1-0 game since the Brewers beat the Angels 1-0 on June 8, 2004, though the Mets and Cardinals played 18 scoreless innings before New York beat St. Louis 2-1 in 20 innings on April 17, 2010.  The Red Sox were on the losing end of a similar contest two years ago.  They fell 2-0 to the Yankees in 15 innings on Aug. 7, 2009.

The team’s combined to bat .078, which is even lower than Adam Dunn’s average this season.  The Red Sox were 5-for-52, while the Rays went 3-for-50.  Dustin Pedroia had three of Boston’s hits, including the go-ahead single that plated Josh Reddick in the 16th.

The starting pitchers were stellar, of course.  Josh Beckett, who left his last start in the first half with a hyperextended knee, pitched eight innings of one-hit ball.  Jeff Niemann allowed two hits while also going eight innings.  He fanned 10 tonight after failing to strike out more than six in any of his previous 10 starts this season.

It looked like Boston would go ahead in the 11th, but after three straight walks to start the frame, Reddick and Jason Varitek both struck out and Marco Scutaro popped out foul to the catcher.

The Red Sox walked 12 times in all.  They left 17 runners on base to the Rays’ six.

By winning two out of three this weekend, the Red Sox opened a seven-game gap on the Rays in the standings.  The Yankees are in second place in the AL East, 1 1/2 games back of Boston.

Brandon McCarthy wins final spot in Dodgers’ rotation

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We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.

McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.

Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.