The first game of this Red Sox-Rays series featured a benches-clearing incident in a Tampa Bay win, and the second game on Saturday brought a Jarrod Saltalamacchia two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth in a 3-2 victory for Boston. With one big inning, the Sox went from having to avoid a three-game sweep Sunday to being in a position to take a particularly intense series.
"That was incredible," Adrian Gonzalez said of the walk-off victory against Rays closer Fernando Rodney. "Get back to .500 and hopefully be able to get above it with a series win tomorrow."
The Red Sox (23-23) have not been above .500 this season.
The Rays (28-19), meanwhile, remain one game behind the first-place Orioles (29-18) in the American League East, after the O's also lost on Saturday, 4-3 to the Royals. Tampa Bay came into play Saturday tied for the best record in the Majors since April 21, at 21-11.
Jeremy Hellickson is Tampa Bay's scheduled starter, and the most runs he's allowed in his last seven starts is three, and that happened just once.
"They have a really good lineup and I just have to execute," Hellickson said Saturday. "I guess the [Green Monster] is a little factor, but once you're out there you don't really think about that. You just have to pitch your game. If you go away from it, that's when things go wrong.
"I feel good. My last three or four starts, my command has been a lot better and I'm just getting ahead of guys. ... I've just felt a lot better with everything [in my last four games]. I guess just finding a groove. I haven't really changed anything, just feeling good. I'm getting ahead of guys and it's helping out a lot."
After giving up five runs for the seventh time this season in his previous outing, Clay Buchholz will get the ball for Boston in the series finale.
Rays: Upton's streak continues
Rays center fielder B.J. Upton brought his hit streak to nine games with a seventh-inning single on Saturday. He's hitting .421 (16-for-38) with four doubles, two home runs and four RBIs in that span. He also had his fifth outfield assist on Saturday, throwing out Dustin Pedroia at the plate in the sixth.
Red Sox: Sweeney, McDonald near returns
The Red Sox's battered outfield should get a lift soon. Ryan Sweeney resumed baseball activities on Saturday after passing his concussion test, and he could return as soon as Monday, the first day he's eligible to be activated off the seven-day disabled list.
Darnell McDonald, who has a strained right oblique, is scheduled to continue a rehab assignment on Monday and Tuesday with Triple-A Pawtucket after taking Saturday off. A Tuesday activation for McDonald is possible.
David Ortiz snapped an 0-for-15 drought with a sixth-inning single Saturday.