tampabay.com

Rays get no breaks from ump

Questionable calls take away a Rays run and set up the tying tally in a 7-6 Red Sox win.

By MARC TOPKIN
Published August 31, 2005


BOSTON - The Devil Rays couldn't have started Tuesday's game much better, taking a five-run lead in the second inning that led the fickle Fenway fans to boo Curt Schilling, the same pitcher they deified after his courageous 2004 postseason performance.

And the Rays couldn't have ended it much worse, as the umpires worked against them and the AL East-leading Red Sox rallied to turn the boos to thunderous cheers with a 7-6 walkoff win.

"A couple calls really went against us there at the end," Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "It was a good ballgame. It's a shame we came out on the short end of it because we battled our (butts) off."

The Sox won when Trot Nixon ripped a bases-loaded single off Danys Baez with two outs in the ninth that scored David Ortiz.

But they were in position to win because of two curious calls by home-plate umpire Ed Montague that went against the Rays in the eighth inning.

The first occurred as the Rays were attempting to expand their 6-4 lead, with Toby Hall called out at the plate after a nifty slide as he tried to score from second on Carl Crawford's single.

The other took place when Joe Borowski appeared to have pinch-hitter Johnny Damon struck out on a perfect 3-and-2 pitch to start the home eighth, but Montague instead saw it as ball four, starting a rally that ended Borowski's scoreless streak and led to a 6-6 tie.

"Where do you want to start?" said Hall, who rarely criticizes umpires. "I'm safe at home and that's strike three to Damon."

Hall appeared to slide by catcher Jason Varitek and safely across the plate, but Montague saw it differently.

"I went around," Hall said. "It's unfortunate that he missed it."

As for the pitch to Damon?

"All I can say is I made the best pitch I could in that situation," Borowski said. "If you were watching the game on TV or you were at the game, you know what happened."

Rays bench coach John McLaren was upset enough that he was ejected in the ninth inning when Montague - who drew the ire of both benches in the first inning when he issued a warning after starter Scott Kazmir hit Sox leadoff man Tony Graffanino - strolled toward the Rays dugout.

"I don't care what our record is, we try to win every game," McLaren said. "We're playing hard and we fight for respect every day. We have to fight too hard to get things to have them taken from us."

Emotions were high as the Rays built a 5-0 lead in the second and threatened to chase Schilling, who has struggled this season. "I came in after that second inning as down as I have been in a long, long time," he said. "I was at a crossroads mentally and it was either continue to keep beating myself down or make some adjustments."

He did, but the Rays still led 6-4 with six outs to go. But the Sox rallied to tie in the eighth against Borowski, who had not allowed a run in his first 20 appearances since joining the Rays at the All-Star break.

Borowski had been philosophical as the streak stretched to a team-record 21 innings, figuring it had to end sometime. It was just too bad that the Red Sox got help from Montague, Trot Nixon and John Olerud following Damon's walk with big hits.

"You still have to get the job done," Borowski said. "No excuses. It didn't work out."

For the Rays, it turned out to be that kind of night.