|Tampa Bay (86-57) «||0||0||2||1||0||0||0||0||2||5||12||1|
Johnson, scratched from Tampa Bay's starting lineup because he didn't get into town until just before the first pitch, hit a game-tying, pinch-hit homer in the ninth inning, and Dioner Navarro doubled in the go-ahead run to help the Rays beat Boston 5-4 Tuesday night and extend their division lead.
"Sometimes things work out just in your favor," said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who credited the victory to the airline that flew Johnson to Boston. "It's a pretty significant win, particularly here, what's been going on (and) where we're at in the race."
The Rays had lost four straight and six of seven games -- and the Red Sox had won six of seven, including a 3-0 victory in the series opener -- to cut Tampa Bay's division lead from 5½ games to just a half-game.
With a victory Tuesday, the Red Sox could have moved into first place for the first time since June 28; instead, the Rays are 1½ up and assured of leading the AL East when they begin a weekend series against the New York Yankees on Friday.
It was the first win for a road team in the season series between the Red Sox and Rays, who finish up the series on Wednesday and have Thursday off. Boston holds a six-game lead in the AL wild-card standings over Minnesota, which beat Kansas City.
"If it comes down to them winning the home field by one game, maybe we'll look back at this game," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell, who homered. "But we'll see."
Tampa Bay took a 3-1 lead in the fourth and still led 3-2 with two outs in the eighth when Dan Wheeler (4-5) walked Kevin Youkilis and then Jason Bay barely cleared the Green Monster to give Boston the lead. Bay, acquired at the trade deadline, homered for the third straight game.
But Jonathan Papelbon (5-4) blew a save opportunity for the fifth time this season.
"Jason's home run gave us a good feeling and we have all the confidence in the world in Pap," Lowell said. "But Pap's a human being. He's been so good for three years, it's almost like he's automatic."
Johnson got a call at 9 a.m. telling him he was being called up from Triple-A Durham, which was set to open the International League's championship series against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Most of the planes out of Scranton were grounded due to the weather, but he found a seat on a much-delayed early morning flight to Philadelphia.
After buying a pair of shoes in the airport -- he'd only packed a couple of T-shirts for Durham's two-day road trip -- he got on a plane scheduled to land in Boston at 4:30. It didn't arrive until closer to 6:30, about 30 minutes before game time.
"It's been real hectic, so there's not really much time to reflect," he said. "It went from not being able to hit in the cage, to not being able to loosen up my arm. I'm just cutting things off, saying, 'Well, maybe I'll be able to swing in on deck."'
Johnson made it into the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, hitting a drive over the Red Sox bullpen in right to tie it. One out later, Fernando Perez doubled and Navarro did the same to make it 5-4.
Troy Percival pitched the ninth for his 28th save. Wheeler earned the victory despite coughing up the lead, allowing two runs in the eighth inning.
The Rays stranded 12 in the first eight innings, going 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position before Navarro's double in the ninth.
|The Rays' offense gets to closer Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning with a solo HR and an RBI double. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Akinori Iwamura, 2B||5||1||2||0||0||0||1||.280|
|Ben Zobrist, CF-LF||4||1||0||0||1||2||1||.217|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||3||0||1||0||2||1||1||.245|
|Cliff Floyd, DH||3||0||0||1||0||2||4||.274|
|a- Justin Ruggiano, PH-DH||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.186|
|b- Dan Johnson, PH-DH||1||1||1||1||0||0||0||.500|
|Willy Aybar, 3B||4||0||2||1||0||0||0||.256|
|Eric Hinske, LF||2||0||0||0||1||0||2||.249|
|c- Fernando Perez, PH-CF||1||1||1||0||1||0||0||.182|
|Dioner Navarro, C||5||0||2||1||0||0||3||.299|
|Gabe Gross, RF||5||1||2||0||0||1||5||.241|
|Jason Bartlett, SS||5||0||1||1||0||0||7||.281|
|a-announced for Floyd in the 9th|
|b-homered for Ruggiano in the 9th|
|c-walked for Hinske in the 7th|
|2B - Fernando Perez (1, Papelbon), Dioner Navarro (24, Papelbon), Jason Bartlett (20, Matsuzaka)|
|HR - Dan Johnson (1, Papelbon)|
|SF - Willy Aybar (1)|
|RBI - Cliff Floyd (36), Dan Johnson (1), Willy Aybar (27), Dioner Navarro (46), Jason Bartlett (29)|
|Team LOB - 13|
|DP - Iwamura-Bartlett-Pena|
|E - Dioner Navarro (4, Throwing)|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Grant Balfour (H,13)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||1.66|
|Dan Wheeler (BS,4; W,4-5)||1||1||2||2||1||1||1||2.74|
|Troy Percival (S,28)||1||0||0||0||1||1||0||4.79|
|Pitches-Strikes - Scott Kazmir 108-68, Grant Balfour 11-8, Dan Wheeler 19-11, Troy Percival 19-10|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Scott Kazmir 3-10, Dan Wheeler 2-0|
|Batters Faced - Scott Kazmir 25, Grant Balfour 3, Dan Wheeler 5, Troy Percival 4|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Coco Crisp, CF||5||0||1||0||0||0||1||.290|
|Jed Lowrie, SS||2||0||0||0||2||1||0||.272|
|Dustin Pedroia, 2B||4||1||1||0||0||0||3||.327|
|Kevin Youkilis, 1B||3||1||1||1||1||0||0||.315|
|Jason Bay, LF||3||1||1||2||1||2||0||.291|
|Mike Lowell, 3B||4||1||2||1||0||0||2||.277|
|Mark Kotsay, RF||3||0||0||0||1||1||1||.288|
|Jacoby Ellsbury, PR||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.263|
|Jason Varitek, C||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.225|
|Jeff Bailey, DH||2||0||0||0||0||1||0||.286|
|a- David Ortiz, PH-DH||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.268|
|a-flied out for Bailey in the 7th|
|2B - Kevin Youkilis (38, Kazmir)|
|HR - Jason Bay (29, Wheeler), Mike Lowell (16, Kazmir)|
|RBI - Kevin Youkilis (99), Jason Bay 2 (97), Mike Lowell (72)|
|2-OUT RBI - Kevin Youkilis (31), Jason Bay 2 (38), Mike Lowell (29)|
|SB - Jacoby Ellsbury (45, 3rd base off Percival/Navarro)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|Boston Red Sox|
|Jonathan Papelbon (BS,5; L,5-4)||1||3||2||2||0||0||1||1.89|
|HBP - Floyd (by Daisuke Matsuzaka)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Daisuke Matsuzaka 102-61, Javier Lopez 16-10, Manny Delcarmen 11-8, Hideki Okajima 4-3, Jonathan Papelbon 20-12|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Daisuke Matsuzaka 4-6, Javier Lopez 2-1, Manny Delcarmen 3-2, Jonathan Papelbon 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Daisuke Matsuzaka 28, Javier Lopez 5, Manny Delcarmen 5, Hideki Okajima 1, Jonathan Papelbon 6|
|Attendance - 37573|
|Game Time - 3:40|
|Temperature - 68|
|Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Dan Iassogna, Second Base - Ron Kulpa, Third Base - Dale Scott|