Margot Scores On A Wild Pitch To Lift Rays To Series Win Over Red Sox

Francisco Mejia tags out Christian Vazquez in the seventh inning of Thursday’s game at Tropicana Field. Kevin Kiermaier’s throw from center kept the game scoreless. (AP/Chris O’Meara)

ST. PETERSBURG — It was not a walk-off, so it must have been a run-off.

With two outs in the ninth, Manny Margot scored on a wild pitch by Matt Barnes to give the Rays 1-0 win over the Red Sox.

The victory enabled the Rays to take the three-game series and reclaim first place in the American League East by half a game over Boston.

With two outs, Margot ripped a single to left, the Rays’ second and final hit of the night. He stole second and advanced to third on catcher Christian Vazquez’s throwing error. After Joey Wendle was intentionally walked, Matt Barnes uncorked a wild pitch that trickled far enough away from Vazquez to allow Margot to score.

“Odd way to win a ballgame, but we will take it,” said manager Kevin Cash.

Margot took it upon himself to lift his team.

“Just looking for a good pitch to hit in the zone,” he said of his single. “When I got on base I was trying to be aggressive. We only had two hits, so I wanted to be aggressive.”

The Rays did not get their first hit until the eighth inning. With one out, Kiermaier doubled to left off lefty Darwinzon Hernandez, Boston’s third pitcher.

“It was a tie game and we were just trying to stay the course and get something going,” said Kiermaier. “I faced Dawinzon Hernandez (Tuesday) night and I felt pretty good against him.”

Boston starter Nick Pivetta no-hit the Rays for 6 ⅔ innings and threw 100 pitches. Manager Alex Cora went to lefty Josh Taylor to face Ji-Man Choi, who ripped a liner to the right field wall in the fifth inning that was caught by Hunter Renfroe, who ran a long way to make the play on the warning track.

Cash countered Cora’s move by using Margot to pinch-hit for Choi. Margot was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second; Austin Meadows reached on an error with one out. Joey Wendle flew out to left to end the threat.

Kiermaier had the play of the game defensively when he threw out Renfroe attempting to score from second on a single up the middle by Vazquez.

“I love going out there and making plays, especially on that side of the ball,” said the center fielder. “And I am glad I took advantage of that opportunity.”

The Rays had five pitchers combine for a four-hit shutout. Starter Michael Wacha threw five one-hit innings with Drew Rasmussen, Ryan Thompson, Matt Wisler and winner J.P Feyereisen (4-3) taking it from there.

“I am still trying to process everything that took place, but I am glad we came out with the win,” said Cash.

Next up for the Rays is a three-game series at the Trop starting Friday night (7:10) against Shohei Ohtani and the Angels.

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.