St. Petersburg, FL – Will Middlebrooks' three-run double in the ninth inning lifted the Boston Red Sox over the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
Holding a 3-1 lead, Tampa Bay sent Fernando Rodney (1-2) to the mound in the top of the ninth. Rodney walked Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to start the frame. After striking out Mike Napoli, Rodney walked Daniel Nava to load the bases. Two batters later, Middlebrooks cleared the bags with a double to left-center field.
"He hung me a changeup," Middlebrooks said. "Normally he buries that pitch, and he left it up."
Felix Doubront got the start for the Red Sox and allowed two runs on three hits while striking out seven and walking six over five-plus innings. Junichi Tazawa (3-2) tossed the final two innings to get the win.
Ortiz had an RBI for Boston, which has won two in a row since a three-game skid.
Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb gave up one run on three hits while striking out six and walking two over 6 1/3 innings. The right-hander allowed three runs last Friday to the San Diego Padres, but also struck out 13 batters in just 4 2/3 innings and received a no-decision. He became the first pitcher in major league history (reliever or starter) to strike out 13 batters in an appearance lasting fewer than five innings.
"We had a good chance to take that series and that's a series you definitely want to win," Cobb said. "New York lost again tonight, so it would have been really nice to gain some ground there, but you know Fernando's going to be there for us throughout the rest of the year. He's been pitching his butt off."
Ryan Roberts hit a solo homer for the Rays, who went 6-4 on a 10-game homestand. Desmond Jennings and Luke Scott each knocked in a run.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead on Roberts' homer in the second.
Boston's first hit of the game came in the fourth when Shane Victorino hit a one-out double down the right-field line. Victorino moved to third on Pedroia's groundout and raced home on Ortiz's single to right.
The Rays took the lead back in the sixth. Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce reached base on a fielder's choice and Jose Lobaton and Roberts walked to load the bases with one out. Jennings and Scott followed with consecutive RBI singles off Clayton Mortensen and Andrew Miller, respectively.
The Rays placed pitcher David Price on the 15-day disabled list due to a left triceps strain he suffered in Wednesday's 9-2 loss to the Red Sox. In addition, Tampa Bay called up pitcher Alex Torres from Triple-A Durham to take Price's spot on the active roster. Torres recorded the final out in the top of the ninth ... Red Sox pitcher Joel Hanrahan underwent surgery on Thursday to repair his flexor tendon and also had Tommy John surgery. Hanrahan won't pitch again in 2013 and could miss the start of next season.