|Closing Time: Rays drop Red Sox back to .500||07.14.12 at 10:29 pm ET|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Red Sox’ momentum was short-lived.
The Sox squandered some key opportunities against Tampa Bay starter David Price, ultimately dropping a 5-3 decision to the Rays, Saturday night at Tropicana Field. Bobby Valentine’s club went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
The loss moves the Sox back to .500 (44-44), two games in back of Tampa Bay.
Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz did his part, leaving with a one-run lead in the seventh. The righty ended up allowing three runs on three hits, striking out eight and walking one over 6 1/3 innings.
Here is what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox:
WHAT WENT WRONG
- With Buchholz pulled, leaving runners on second and third with one out in the seventh, Red Sox manager decided have reliever Matt Albers intentionally walk pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui to load the bases. The move backfired on a 3-2 count, Albers walked Jose Lobaton to tie the game. Elliott Johnson would give the Rays the lead in the next at-bat via sacrifice fly to deep center field.
- According to WEEI.com stat man Gary Marbry, the bases-loaded walk by Albers gave the Red Sox 10 for the season, the most in the American League.
- B.J. Upton added an insurance run for the Rays with a solo home run off Red Sox’ reliever Andrew Miller in the eighth inning. It was only the second home run allowed by Miller this season, with the other one coming May 23.
- With the bases loaded and the Red Sox carrying a one-run lead, Pedro Ciriaco launched a fly ball to medium right field with one out in the fifth inning. The fly out, however, wasn’t enough to get Kelly Shoppach home from third, with the catcher being narrowly nabbed by the throw from Ben Zobrist to keep the Sox’ lead at one.
- In the bottom half of the inning the Rays would tie the game up at 2-2 as Mike Aviles couldn’t handle a ground ball into the hole between third and shortstop off the bat of Jose Molina, bouncing off his glove and allowing Jeff Keppinger to score.
- The Red Sox initially fell into a 1-0 hole in the third thanks to Sean Rodriguez’ sacrifice fly to deep center field, plating Desmond Jennings. Jennings had led off the frame with a single, the first hit of the game against Buchholz.
- Daniel Nava continued to slump, going 0-for-4. Coming into the game, the outfielder had hit just .125 (7-for-56) with an OPS of .449 over his previous 15 games.
- With a chance to get Jacoby Ellsbury to third (representing the tying run) with nobody out in the eighth inning, Ciriaco’s bunt attempt was popped up, resulting in Tampa Bay catcher Jose Molina to snatch it for the inning’s first out. After a David Ortiz walk, Cody Ross and Will Middlebrooks both flew out to center to end the threat.
WHAT WENT RIGHT
- The start marked the fifth time in his last six starts that Buchholz has pitched into the seventh inning, leaving with runners on second and third and one out in the seventh. His eight strikeouts also marked the second-most he’s totaled this season. The righty finished at 87 pitches, having thrown just 78 (55 strikes) through six.
- Will Middlebrooks’ power returned in a big way, with the rookie launching a two-run blast over the left-center field wall in the fourth inning, giving the Red Sox a 2-1 lead. The homer was Middlebrooks’ 11th of the season, and first since June 29.
- Cody Ross forced Rays starter David Price into a key error, darting down the third base line in a fake attempt at stealing home. Price, who was pitching out of the windup, stepped off and threw over to third in an attempt to pickoff Ross. But the throw went well over the head of third baseman Jeff Keppinger, allowing for Ross to score the Red Sox’ go-ahead run.
- Wade Boggs was not only in attendance, but he was with his grandson, Beckett Boggs, who got to meet the pitcher he was named after, Josh Beckett, before the game. Beckett’s dad (and Wade’s son) Brett was named after George Brett.
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