ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Ticker) -- Even if they needed a little help from the umpires, the
Tampa Bay Devil Rays
are determined to avoid a third straight 100-loss season.
Second base umpire Joe West called fan interference to nullify a potential home run by David McCarty in the top of the ninth inning as the
held on for a 5-4 victory over the
Boston Red Sox
(62-99) need to win on Sunday to avoid becoming the 12th team in baseball history to post three straight 100-loss seasons. The last team to do it was the
Toronto Blue Jays
In this one, manager
pulled out all the stops, using four relievers after starter
lasted just 2 1/3 innings. Rookie
(2-0) gave up four hits in 4 1/3 scoreless innings for his second career win.
and got the final out of the seventh,
got three straight groundouts in the eighth before
Aided by West's call, Carter retired all three batters he faced in the ninth and notched his 25th save in 32 chances, securing Tampa Bay's third win in 13 games. With one out in the ninth, McCarty hit a fly ball to deep left field. A fan appeared to reach over the railing, but the ball bounced in the stands. Instead of giving McCarty a home run, West ruled it an out, concluding left fielder
would have made the catch.
McCarty was at second when West made the call and
manager Grady Little argued unsuccessfully before Carter retired
to end the game.
"It was spectator interference," West explained. "It appeared the left fielder could catch the ball, and if you can catch the ball and it is spectator interference, then it's an out. If I don't think he could have caught the ball, I can award him a different base because the ball wouldn't have gone out of the ballpark. I thought he could have caught it, and that's what I ruled."
"I thought it was in the seats," Little said. "It appeared that way on the replay. With fan interference, maybe you rule it a double. I've never seen anyone called out. It's a tough call. (West) would not confer, he said he saw it clearly. This is not the first time and it won't be the last. It's a shame, but it happens."
Before the fan leaned over the wall, Crawford was positioning himself to make a leaping catch.
"I thought he had a play on it," Tampa Bay center fielder
said. "The fan stood up and put out his glove. (Crawford) got up against the wall and he can definitely jump. I didn't know what he was going to call, but he went with the out signal."
West also ejected Boston backup catcher
from the dugout for arguing.
Tampa Bay never has won more than 69 games in its seven-year history. But with a chance to avoid a dubious distinction, Piniella intends on playing his regulars Sunday.
"The last game of the season, it will be real interesting," Piniella said. "We'll play our regular lineup and see if we can win."
rallied from an early deficit with four runs in the bottom of the first inning, highlighted by
's single. It was his 106th RBI of the season, tying
's 2000 team record.
After solo homers by Mirabelli and Garciaparra forged a 4-4 tie,
's 3-1 pitch over the left field fence in the bottom of the third for his 19th homer of the season and 12th in his last 62 games.
Following Lee's blast, four relievers combined to toss 6 1/3 scoreless innings. Gaudin highlighted the big effort by getting American League batting leader
to bounce into a double play with two on in the fifth.
"The story of the game was Gaudin pitching four nice innings," Piniella said. "He gave us the chance to win. I like him out of our bullpen. He throws strikes and his breaking ball has gotten better. He's shown enough to get a consideration for our pitching staff where we can count on him."
Suppan (3-4) surrendered five runs and eight hits in six innings.
"They were very aggressive in the first inning," he said. "They took advantage of my location and scored four runs."
Boston, the AL wild card representative, got a two-run homer from
in the first to take a 2-0 lead.
After Huff's single tied it, Baldelli tripled him in and scored on Lee's groundout.
Mueller went 1-for-3, leaving his average at .327. Teammate
, the 2002 batting champion, was 1-for-2 and is hitting .325.
New York Yankees
is in between at .326.