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Closing Time: James Shields, Rays too much for Red Sox in series finale

04.16.12 at 2:13 pm ET
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James Shields was dominant for the Rays Monday. (AP)

On a day that start fast and furious for the Red Sox, things fizzled out in a hurry.

Tampa Bay starting pitcher James Shields held Red Sox’ hitters to just four hits while earning the the win in a 1-0 victory for the Rays Monday at Fenway Park. Sox hitters managed just four hits against the righty, who finished throwing 115 pitches.

The Red Sox’ left the potential game-tying and go-ahead runs at first (David Ortiz) and second base (Dustin Pedroia), respectively, in the ninth inning when Fernando Rodney struck out Cody Ross to end the game

The only run of the game came in the seventh when Sox starter Daniel Bard walked home Sean Rodriguez thanks to a two-out, bases loaded free pass to Evan Longoria. Bard finished his second major league starting going 6 1/3 innings, striking out seven and walking seven while allowing four hits and just the one run.

Kevin Youkilis, who was the subject of some controversy before the game due to comments made by Bobby Valentine the day before, didn’t play. The third baseman had been scheduled for a day off after nursing a sore groin following Sunday’s win.

Here is a taste of what went right (and wrong) in the loss:

WHAT WENT WRONG

- The seventh inning for Bard took a turn for the worse in a hurry. After retiring the first two batters, Bard walked No. 9 hitter Sean Rodriguez after the count went full. After a Desmond Jennings single to center, Bard walked Carlos Pena on four pitches. The starter remained in to face Evan Longoria, who ultimately drew another free pass on four straight pitches, forcing in the go-ahead run.

- Bard finished his day walking seven, a total it took the righty until May 15 to reach in 2011. It marked the first time since 1968 (Jerry Stephenson) that a Red Sox pitcher had walked seven and struck out seven in a game.

- The Red Sox weren’t able to get Shields out of his game, with the starter managing to throw first-pitch strikes to 19 of his 29 batters. The Red Sox tried, offering at just five of Shields’ initial offerings. Shields has lasted less than seven innings in just one of his last six outings against the Sox.

- With one out, the count full to Ryan Sweeney and Cody Ross at first in the seventh, the Red Sox were reminded why few attempt steals against Shields. It was just the eighth time a Sox player has attempted to steal against Shields in the righty’s 23 starts against Boston, with only three having been successful.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

- Mike Aviles got Bard out of the fourth inning, not only scooping up a one-hop throw from Bard on a comebacker to Bard off the bat of Jeff Keppinger, but then proceeding to tag second and throw to first for the inning-ending double play. If Aviles doesn’t handle the throw the bases could have potentially been loaded with one out. Bard would also use the double play ball to get out of the sixth inning, ending the frame at 87 pitches.

- Bard got through only the second 1-2-3 first inning for a Red Sox starter this season, needing eight pitches to set down the Rays. Opponents came in hitting .324 with a 1.040 OPS in the first inning against the Red Sox this season.

- According to WEEI.com stat man Gary Marbry, Aviles’ first at-bat of the game marked the first time since Sept. 11, 2007 that  a Red Sox leadoff man had seen 10 or more pitches in the first inning. Aviles ended up popping out to first baseman Carlos Pena.

- Lefty Justin Thomas got the Red Sox out of their jam in the seventh, coming on for Bard with the bases loaded and two outs and got Luke Scott to fly out to right field. Thomas would finish his 1 1/3-inning outing striking out one and allowing one hit.

- Dustin Pedroia has now reached base in all seven of his plate appearances in the ninth inning or later this season, drawing a one-out walk. He has four hits, and three free passes.

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