BOSTON – Rays slugger Luke Raley hit a deep fly ball toward the 420-foot marker in the center field triangle – the deepest part of Fenway Park. Kiké Hernandez tracked it, leapt and reached over the fence to snare it.
An inning later, Alex Verdugo drifted toward the right field stands, where the short wall juts out away from home pate beyond the Pesky Pole. Brushing off a fan in the front row, he gloved Francisco Mejía’s potential home run to preserve a scoreless tie.
Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash didn’t know how many more chances his team would get.
“You want to get greedy, certainly in this ballpark against that team,” Cash said after Shane McClanahan held off Boston 4-1 on Monday to earn his major league-leading ninth victory. “You’ve got to find a way to get greedy. And they prevented that early on.”
McClanahan (9-1) pitched six innings of five-hit ball, and Raley eventually found a wall the Red Sox couldn’t leap above to help the Rays beat Boston for the third straight game. In the makeup of Friday’s rainout, Tampa Bay improved to 7-1 against Boston this season and 43-19 overall; the next-closest team in the majors, AL East rival Baltimore, has 37.
Brayan Bello (3-4) survived the two close calls to take a shutout into the fifth inning. But Raley, who also watched Hernandez steal a bloop single with a sliding catch, led off with a double off the Green Monster. Manuel Margot and Mejia followed with RBI singles, and Josh Lowe drove in another when he beat the relay on a potential double play groundout with the bases loaded.
“He gets down the line as good as anybody on our team. That’s just a mindset,” Cash said. “He can easily get frustrated with the way that he swung the bat. … But he gave us a really good 90 to get down there and get that other run.”
McClanahan (9-1) walked two of the first three Boston batters and took a shutout into the sixth before Justin Turner hit a solo homer. In all, McClanahan allowed five hits and struck out five to bounce back from his only loss of the season.
“That’s the worst part about the robbed homer,” Raley said. “That would’ve been two runs in the second inning. And with Mac on the mound, you get two runs up on the board, and there’s a good chance you’re going to win the game.”
Jason Adam pitched the ninth for his ninth save.
Bello allowed three runs on six hits and a walk, striking out five.
KEEPING IT CLOSE
A day after committing two errors to draw the ire of manager Alex Cora, the Red Sox showed flashy defense early.
Raley’s 398-foot fly would have gone into the Boston bullpen in center. Mejia’s looping fly was headed for a fan in the front row down the right field line.
“Those are two great plays,” McClanahan said. “Those guys hit the ball well. And, unfortunately, that’s what happened.”
Hernandez, who had two errors at shortstop in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, giving him a league-leading 13 for the season, also robbed Raley of a bloop single in the sixth.
“That’s the silly part about baseball: You can do everything right and still get out,” Raley said. “I’d rather be doing that than striking out. So you move on.”
Shortstop Pablo Reyes did commit an error in the sixth, Boston’s AL-leading 40th of the season.
Cora was ejected after going out to argue following the bottom of the eighth. The inning ended on a strikeout-throwout double play with Rafael Devers at the plate and Verdugo caught stealing at second, but Cora seemed more upset about a checked swing first base umpire David Rackley let go earlier.
Rays: Host Minnesota for a three-game series against the Twins, with RHP Zach Eflin (7-1) going up against RHP Louie Varland (3-1).
Red Sox: Open a three-game series at Cleveland, with LHP James Paxton (1-1) facing Guardians RHP Shane Bieber (4-3).