Jon Lester and Roberto Hernandez figure to have their work cut out for them on Tuesday night when the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays resume a three-game series that began with a 5-hour, 24-minute marathon.
The Red Sox and Rays needed 14 innings to complete Monday's opener, with Boston recovering from two blown leads to escape with a 10-8 victory.
Tampa Bay starter Alex Cobb allowed six runs in the first inning, but the Rays chipped away at the deficit and evened the game at 6-6 in the eighth inning when Yunel Escobar scored on Junichi Tazawa's wild pitch.
Boston went back ahead in the top of the 10th inning thanks to a two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but Jose Lobaton began the bottom of the frame with a home run off Red Sox closer Andrew Bailey and Kelly Johnson later drew a bases-loaded walk to extend the game.
The Red Sox finally locked things up when Daniel Nava and Saltalamacchia came through with RBI singles in the 14th and Franklin Morales, Wednesday's scheduled starter, finished off his second inning of scoreless relief.
"I can't say enough about the way our guys grinded it out all night here," said Red Sox manager John Farrell.
Saltalamacchia not only caught all 14 innings, but also went 4-for-7 at the plate with three RBI. Dustin Pedroia drove in two runs and has a hit in 14 straight for the Red Sox, who have won three straight and seven of their last nine.
Matt Joyce, Evan Longoria and James Loney also had solo homers for the Rays and Ben Zobrist had five hits in his club's second straight loss. Joyce was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning by Boston starter John Lackey, causing the benches to empty. No punches were thrown.
The Red Sox, though, landed a few blows on Cobb, who managed to log four innings of work.
"I think I was letting the game speed up too much. I got into a jam, and instead of settling down and executing pitches I kind of let the game speed up and stopped focusing on what I was doing," said Cobb.
In all, the teams combined to use 16 pitchers, eight apiece. That means the pressure will be on Lester and Hernandez to eat up some innings.
After beginning the season 6-0 with a 2.72 earned run average though nine outings for the Red Sox, Lester has gone 0-2 over his last four starts with a 5.68 ERA. He did, however, manage a quality start last time out on Thursday versus Texas, charged with three runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings.
The 29-year-old southpaw did not get a decision in his team's 6-3 win, but did see his season ERA increase slightly to 3.60.
Lester has held the Rays to just three runs over 14 innings in two meetings this season, picking up a victory and a no-decision. That gives him career numbers of 11-8 with a 4.07 ERA in 24 all-time meetings with Tampa Bay.
On the other hand, Hernandez will face the Red Sox for the first time in 2013 and is 2-4 against them lifetime with a 3.63 ERA and two blown saves over nine meetings (7 starts).
The 32-year-old righty is 1-2 with a 6.30 ERA over his last four starts and 3-6 on the season with a 5.03 ERA in 11 games.
Hernandez gave up a total of 10 runs over just six combined innings in the first two outings of his current four-game stretch, but hurled 8 2/3 innings in a gem against Miami on May 29. He allowed just one unearned run in the victory, but picked up a loss at Detroit on Thursday.
Hernandez was touched for four runs on 10 hits and a walk in 5 1/3 innings of a decent outing.
"I think he pitched awesome, kept the ball down," Rays catcher Jose Molina said of Hernandez. "We're supposed to cash in out there and we couldn't. That's part of the game I guess."
Boston has won six of seven meetings with the Rays so far this season.