MLB: Red Sox almost hit no hit and Rays won with walk-off wild pitch, to return to the top

The right-handed Nick Pivetta of the Red Sox and the Boston bullpen flirted with the story Thursday night on el Tropicana Field. But at the end of a battle for him first place in the AL East, the Rays were the ones who ran out of the dugout and threw their coolers to each other to celebrate.

Pivetta had a no-hitter in the seventh inning, and the Boston bullpen extended it into the eighth. Manuel Margot scored from third base on a wild pitch by Red Sox closer Matt Barnes with two outs in the ninth to give the Rays a 1-0 scoring victory that led to Tampa Bay (45 -31) back to first place in the division by half a game over Boston (44-31):

In fact, it was only the fourth time in franchise history that the Rays won with a wild pitch and the first time in the only run of the game. No one in the majors had won that way since the Marlins beat the Tigers that way to secure a no-hitter for Henderson Alvarez on the final day of the 2013 regular season.

After Barnes retired the first two batters in the ninth, Margot singled to left field, just the Rays’ second hit of the night. The speedy Margot got the green light and took her shot, stealing the second and then advancing to the third after a misdirected shot by catcher Christian Vazquez bounced into center field.

Boston intentionally walked southpaw Joey Wendle, bringing up Francisco Mejia. Margot knew Barnes is a two-pitch pitcher and figured he didn’t want to throw a fastball at Mejia, giving him a chance to put the ball in play, so she was alert when he took the lead at third base.

Sure enough, Barnes’ first two pitches were curves. Mejia took the first for a strike, then swung and missed on the second, which drifted away from Vazquez. Margot took off and slid home to score the winning run.

Pivetta’s shot into individual history ended with two outs in the seventh inning when Red Sox manager Alex Cora took the ball from the right-hander after his 100th pitch of the game. Kiermaier broke Boston’s no-hitter in the eighth inning with a double to left field off left-hander Darwinzon Hernandez.

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That ensured the Rays wouldn’t be hitless for the first time since Felix Hernandez pitched a perfect game against them in Seattle on Aug. 15, 2012, but Kiermaier said Tampa Bay wasn’t counting outs at the time.

After suffering four walk-off losses on their recent tour of Chicago and Seattle, the Rays finally got back on the winning side Thursday night. And back in the first place.