The Rays and Red Sox brought the excitement of a late-summer pennant race to the Grapefruit League Thursday as catching prospect Robinson Chirinos' walk-off blast gave the Rays an 8-6 win.
Tampa jumped out to an early lead in the game, roughing up Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka for five runs on five hits over 3 2/3 innings. Matsuzaka, who struck out two and walked two, has now allowed 11 earned runs in 8 2/3 frames this spring.
Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine was sharp, holding the Sox to two hits in four scoreless innings, but Boston began a comeback against the Tampa bullpen. After Boston scored one run in the fifth, Red Sox infield prospect Nate Spears contributed a two-run triple in the sixth, later scoring on a single by catching prospect Tim Federowicz to cut the deficit to one run. Spears was 3-for-4 with a stolen base in the game.
The score remained 5-4 until the ninth, when Boston second base prospect Oscar Tejeda and infielder Drew Sutton connected on back-to-back two-out homers off Rays reliever Brandon Gomes to give the Red Sox a 6-5 advantage.
Tejeda, who spent last season with Class A Advanced Salem, is now batting .391 with eight RBIs in 12 Spring Training games.
Boston reliever Alfredo Aceves stayed in the game to close out the ninth after pitching a scoreless seventh and eighth. He yielded a single to Desmond Jennings and a game-tying double to Casey Kotchman before inducing a popup from Stephen Vogt for the first out.
Chirinos, whom the Rays acquired from Chicago in the Matt Garza trade, then blasted his first homer of the spring to left to give Tampa its fifth victory in 12 Grapefruit League games. The 26-year-old backstop is off to a hot start with his new club, batting .389 with eight RBIs in 10 games.
Boston free-agent signee Carl Crawford was 1-for-3 in his return to Charlotte Sports Park.
Gomes (2-0) got the win for the Rays despite giving up two runs on three hits in one inning. He fanned a pair.
Boston's Aceves fell to 0-1 after allowing three runs on four hits over 2 1/3 frames.