CHICAGO - Kevin Kiermaier made an error in right field soon after he entered the game in the eighth inning and struck out as a pinch-hitter.
The Tampa Bay Rays rookie got a chance to make up for those transgressions with a game-winning hit two innings later.
"I was ready to play all day and once I got in, I made a mistake on defence," he said. "That really didn't make me happy, so any time you do something like that — even though nothing happened — you want to redeem yourself."
Kiermaier drove in the game-winning run with a single in the 10th to give the Rays a 4-3 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
Desmond Jennings went 2 for 5 with a homer and Ben Zobrist went 3 for 5 as Tampa Bay won its second straight in a back-and-forth game.
Brad Boxberger (3-1) blew the save in the ninth, but pitched a perfect 10th to get the win. Hector Rondon (3-4) took the loss.
"It was a classically well-played game on both sides," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "I can see why they like a lot of their young players."
Jennings started the game-winning rally with a one-out single and advanced to third when Zobrist singled. Kiermaier, who went 1 for 2, singled to centre to score Jennings and break the 3-3 tie.
In his Wrigley Field debut, touted Cubs prospect Javier Baez went 1 for 5 with a run scored and four strikeouts.
"I just have to be patient," Baez said. "There's another game tomorrow. We'll come back and play hard again."
Cubs starter Tsuyoshi Wada allowed two runs and four hits in six-plus innings, while Rays starter Chris Archer allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits in six innings.
The Rays took a 3-2 lead in the eighth inning on a pinch-hit single by Matt Joyce, but the Cubs tied the score in the bottom of the ninth when Ryan Sweeney hit a weak grounder up the middle — it probably would have been a routine play if Tampa Bay didn't have the second baseman playing in the hole — to score Justin Ruggiano from second and send the game into extra innings.
After the Rays took the lead in the 10th, Maddon let Boxberger hit so he could remain in the game.
"A broken-bat ground ball found a hole; nothing you can do about that," Boxberger said. "I was definitely excited to go back out there and do what I can do."
A DIFFERENT GAME
The teams used a combined 11 pitchers and each team used multiple pinch-hitters and had a double switch. It's not the game Maddon is used to.
"Totally National League," he said. "Oh my God, what a different baseball game. For the group that doesn't sometimes get it when you talk about the game being boring, I think maybe sometimes American League fans need to watch a National League game. Seriously, because there's so much more going on.
"When you manage a game like that, you actually feel as though you've played when it's over. I'm really becoming more of a fan of it. There are so many moving parts."
LONG TIME COMING
The series at Wrigley Field is the first for the Rays since 2003 and the second in their history. In their first game here, Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa was ejected after cork was discovered in his shattered bat. He was suspended for seven games after an appeal.
Rays: Outfielder Wil Myers (fractured right hand) is expected to begin a minor league rehab stint this weekend. He has missed 60 games through Friday with the injury.
Cubs: Right-hander Neil Ramirez (triceps soreness) is eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Sunday.
Rays right-hander Jake Odorizzi (7-9, 4.09) takes on Edwin Jackson (6-11, 5.66) in the second game of the series on Saturday.
© Coast Reporter