by Steve Carney
The Tampa Bay Rays finished the first day of the Grapefruit League with a 1-1 record, as they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates, but also spoiled the Boston Red Sox home opener in Fort Myers with a 4-3 win.
In Port Charlotte, manager Joe Maddon got strong outings from Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Niemann, and Fernando Rodney each tossed a scoreless inning of work, before J.D. Martin allowed a run in the fourth, and Mike Montgomery allowed a pair of runs in the sixth on three straight hits to make it 3-0.
Tampa Bay didn't get their first hit until the fourth inning, when Yunel Escobar beat out an infield single with one out, and moved to third base on a single by Kelly Johnson. However, Jose Molina flew out to short right, and Luke Scott struck out to end the threat.
The Rays finally got on the board in the eighth, as Nick Weglarz drew a walk, moved to second on a single by Rich Thompson, and both runners scored on a ground-rule double by Kevin Kiermaier. But Tim Beckham grounded to third to end the inning, and Tampa Bay could get no closer.
In Fort Myers, Dave Martinez's crew got off to an early start thanks to a walk to leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist to lead off the game against John Lackey. A single by Desmond Jennings and a hit by pitch to Matt Joyce loaded the bases. Jack Cust struck out for the first out, but Ryan Roberts lifted a sacrifice fly to score Zobrist for a 1-0 lead.
Tampa Bay added a second run two innings later as Jennings doubled off Drake Britton to lead off the third, and as Joyce drew a walk, stole third base and as Jarrod Saltalamacchia's throw went errant, cazme home to make it 2-0.
Boston came back to tie the game in the seventh, as Jose Iglesias hit a two-run homer off Marquis Fleming to make it a 2-2 game.
Tampa Bay retook the lead in the eighth, as Jack Cust singled off Oscar Villareal with one out, and two batters later, Leslie Anderson hit a two run homer just into the bullpens to give the Rays their two run lead back.
Matt Buschmann allowed a run in the ninth, but held on to preserve the victory.
The entire squad will make the trip to Fort Myers on Sunday, this time to face the Minnesota Twins, with Chris Archer facing Liam Hendriks. Also scheduled to pitch Sunday are Jake Odorizzi, Frank De Los Santos, Will Inman, Matt Nevarez, Jimmy Patterson, Juan Sandoval, Alex Torres, and Kirby Yates. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05, with coverage beginning on 620 WDAE at 1:00.