Garza flirts with perfection in Rays rout
Starter Matt Garza was perfect through six innings against the Boston Red Sox on Thursday as the Tampa Bay Rays beat their American League East rivals 13-0.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the seventh with a single to the left side of the infield to end Garza's bid for a perfect game, the only hit the right-hander would yield.
The speedy Boston centre-fielder easily beat shortstop Jason Bartlett's throw to first base.
"When it was first hit, it sounded like it was coming off hard," Garza said. "Then I saw it float by. I dove and watched the ball just miss my glove by inches. I'm like: 'Oh, Barty!' He almost made a great play."
Garza (2-2) left with one out in the eighth inning, striking out 10 and walking one.
"He was phenomenal," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "If they did not get that hit, I would have let him go 125 or 130 pitches."
Left-fielder Jason Bay of Trail, B.C., had a particularly frustrating night against the Tampa Bay hurler, striking out three times.
Tampa Bay batters pounded Boston starter Josh Beckett (2-2) for seven runs and 10 hits in just under five innings.
It was the second straight rough outing for Beckett, who gave up eight runs, 10 hits and four walks over five innings against the Yankees on April 25.
"It's frustrating. It's a lot of things," Beckett said. "I didn't do that in between my last two starts."
Evan Longoria was the big hitter, finishing with four runs batted in. The third baseman cleared the bases with a double in the third and in the sixth hit a solo shot off Hunter Jones, his sixth home run of the season.
Cuban Michel Hernandez recorded the first homer and three RBIs of his career. The catcher hit a solo blast in the fourth and later twice brought Akinori Iwamura across with doubles.
Gabe Gross and Iwamura each got to Red Sox reliever Javier Lopez for two-run doubles with the game already out of reach in the eighth. Pat Burrell and Carl Crawford also drove in runs for the Rays, who pounded out seven doubles and 18 hits overall.
Tampa Bay reliever Grant Balfour recorded four outs and preserved the one-hitter to finish off the game.
With Cleveland idle, Tampa Bay (9-14) moved out of the AL basement. Boston dropped to 14-8 and back into a virtual tie atop the East with Toronto.
With files from The Associated Press