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Closing Time: Red Sox offense continues struggles in loss to Rays

06.19.13 at 10:32 pm ET
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David Ortiz had a double, but the Sox offense was otherwise hardly worthy of the term. (AP)

David Ortiz had a double, but the Sox offense was otherwise hardly worthy of the term. (AP)

A steady drumbeat of offense proved a hallmark of the Red Sox’ march to the best record in the American League. Through the team’s first 65 games, the Sox led the American League with 5.3 runs per game, with regular yields of six or more runs.

But of late, the supply of runs has diminished. That trend continued on Wednesday, as the Sox were subdued by Jeremy Hellickson and the Rays in a 6-2 loss. The Sox now have scored five or fewer runs in each of their last nine games — their longest such streak of the year — while averaging exactly 3.0 runs per contest, 12th in the AL in that stretch.

The result? A sideways 4-5 stagger through games against AL East foes.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– Although he turned in a solid outing, Ryan Dempster labored through his first inning. He allowed two runs (both earned) coming on three consecutive hits. Desmond Jennings, the second batter of the game belted a ball over the Green Monster. Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria then strung back-to-back singles together, with the second run coming on a James Loney sacrifice fly.

Dempster continued to be home run prone this season, now having given up 16 on the year, which is tied for third most in the big leagues. In addition, Dempster has had his struggles with the first inning long ball, as Jennings’ blast was the fifth home run Dempster has surrendered in the first inning.

Still, although Dempster was saddled with the loss, dropping to 4-8, his yield of three runs in six innings gave the veteran his ninth quality start in 15 outings this year, a 60 percent rate that is third best on the team behind Clay Buchholz (83 percent) and John Lackey (63 percent).

Jose Iglesias had a tough night all-around, going 0-for-2 (with a walk) to snap his 18-game hitting streak and making his first error on the season. The error came when a Jonny Gomes throw from left field skipped by the usually sure-handed Iglesias, allowing Longoria to advance to second base following his single in the first inning.

Mike Napoli’s struggles in June continued as he went 0-for-4. In his last 11 games (since June 4th), Napoli is hitting just .167 with a .311 OBP, .194 slugging percentage and has struck out 16 times in 44 total plate appearances.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

Jonny Gomes delivered a pair of RBI infield singles, both in the direction of Rays third baseman Evan Longoria. In his last eight games (six starts), he’s now hitting .379/.379/.655.

Jacoby Ellsbury continued his outstanding June, delivering a pair of hard singles to improve to .333 with an .848 OPS in June.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who entered the game mired in a 2-for-22 slump, blasted a double off the wall in center, his first extra-base hit in seven games. He did, however, strike out in his other three at-bats, giving him 12 punchouts in his last 28 plate appearances. More impressive than the hit was the catcher’s line was the fact that Saltalamacchia was playing at all, given that one day earlier, he became the first Red Sox catcher to start both games of a doubleheader since John Marzano in 1992.

Griffin Tewksbury contributed to this report.

Read More: Jacoby Ellsbury, jarrod saltalamacchia, Jonny Gomes, jose iglesias
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