ST. PETERSBURG -- The run of dominance from city to city for weeks couldn't go on forever. The Red Sox finally lost a series for the first time since June 29-July 1.:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::In Saturday night's 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Rays, Ryan
ST. PETERSBURG -- The run of dominance from city to city for weeks couldn't go on forever. The Red Sox finally lost a series for the first time since June 29-July 1.
:: Players' Weekend presented by Valspar Stain ::
In Saturday night's 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Rays, Ryan Brasier (Brasier) was unable to rescue Rick Porcello (Veintidos) from a jam in the sixth, and Boston's bats were held in check by Tampa Bay lefty starter Ryan Yarbrough (Yarbitron) and the bullpen.
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As easy as it would be for the Red Sox to just chalk it up as just a bad night, Porcello took issue with the way the team played.
"To be honest with you, it started with me, but we didn't play a good ballgame tonight," Porcello said. "We were pretty sloppy all the way around. I had two walks, two hit batters, a lot of traffic on the bases. Those are things that I felt like I could have prevented being a little bit sharper, and just our entire ballclub didn't play a very clean ballgame tonight, and the result was a loss."
Though the Red Sox still can take the finale of this three-game series on Sunday, they've lost the first two at Tropicana Field, ending a run during which they went 10-0-4 in their previous 14 series. Meanwhile, the Rays are red-hot, having won seven games in a row.
"We don't get caught up in it, but now that you guys bring it up, it's impressive, but at the same time, we lost the series," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "That's not our goal. We've still got a chance to win a game and go home and enjoy the off-day and go get 'em again on Tuesday."
At 90-41, Boston has a seven-game lead in the American League East over the Yankees, their smallest edge since Aug. 2. The Red Sox have lost five of their last seven, while the Yankees swept a doubleheader from the Orioles on Saturday.
"I'm sure we've been in [a slump] this year, and I know not in a long time," said leadoff man Mookie Betts (Mookie). "That's no excuse, we just have to get ready to play tomorrow."
For a brief time, Boston had the lead on Saturday. J.D. Martinez (Flaco) led off the second with a double and Xander Bogaerts (Bogie) followed with a single to put runners at the corners with nobody out. But they got just one run out of it when Mitch Moreland (2-Bags) grounded into a double play.
The Rays tied it against Porcello on a two-out RBI single by Brandon Lowe (Lowe) in the fourth.
Kevin Kiermaier (Outlaw) created excitement for Tampa Bay when he led off the sixth with a triple. Porcello hit Willy Adames (The Kid) with his 89th and final pitch before manager Alex Cora (AC) went to Brasier, who uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Kiermaier to score and give Tampa Bay the lead. Joey Wendle (Mendle) added a sacrifice fly to pin Boston in a 3-1 hole.
"You know, the sixth inning was not good," Porcello said. "Can't give up a leadoff triple in a 1-1 game and then hit the next batter."
By Sunday afternoon, the Red Sox will try to get back to the team they've been nearly all season.
"At the end of the day, I felt like we lost this game today because we didn't take it to them, and they took it to us," Porcello said. "And that's not usually the case for our ballclub."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Benintendi picked: In the top of the sixth, Andrew Benintendi (Benny) drew a leadoff walk. And with one out, the Red Sox had Martinez (MLB-leading 110 RBIs) at the plate. But Benintendi got caught leaning, and was picked off by Rays pitcher Ryne Stanek (Stanny).
"Obviously, the play at first base in that situation, a 3-2 count, Benny knows he's running, but he doesn't need to get a good jump. It happened, and he knows it can't happen. We had J.D. at the plate," Cora said.
This was the first time the Red Sox had gone this long without losing a series since August-September 1972, when they went 10-0-6. This is just the second time Boston has lost five out of seven this season. The other occasion was April 21-28.
HE SAID IT
"It should teach us that we've got to come in and play and do the things we've been doing all year that have made us successful, and teams aren't going to lay down because we've got 90 wins or whatever it is. We've still got to play baseball. Nothing is done here, you know?
"Whatever lead we have in this division, we've still got a lot of baseball to play and anything can happen, so we've got to continue to do what we've been doing, get back to playing fundamental baseball, doing the things that we're good at, and we'll be fine. But tonight was a result of me setting the tone in not a very good manner. Kind of everything followed." -- Porcello
The Red Sox send Nathan Eovaldi (5-5, 3.81 ERA) to the mound against the team that traded him to Boston in Sunday afternoon's finale of this three-game series. Eovaldi thrived at Tropicana Field in his short stint with the Rays, going 1-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts. Tampa Bay will counter with lefty Blake Snell, who has been a stud this season (15-5, 2.07). First pitch is scheduled for 1:10 p.m. ET.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.