Score early and score often was the mantra of the 2013 World Series Champion Boston Red Sox.
The 2014 Red Sox team got the first part right Saturday, scoring five times in the top of the first inning, but failed to manufacture a single run over the next five hours. The result was an excruciating ninth consecutive loss, this time in 15 innings, to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 6-5 defeat, a second walk-off loss to the Rays in as many nights, was particularly agonizing, not only for the time it took or the manner it happened, but also for the growing peripheral problems that continue to plague the Red Sox: injuries and all-around poor play.
The Sox gave Jake Peavy (1-2, 4.33) a five-run advantage before he threw a pitch. Brock Holt and Xander Bogaerts led off with consecutive singles against Rays’ starter David Price (4-4, 4.28). Dustin Pedroia then walked to load the bases. Mike Carp was hit by a pitch, forcing in Holt with the first run. Jonny Gomes followed with a sacrifice fly to score Bogaerts. A.J. Pierzynski capped the scoring with a three-run homer for a 5-0 lead.
Boston Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli sits in the empty dugout after they lost to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Boston Red Sox 1-0 (Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports).
Peavy allowed the Rays to chip away at the Red Sox lead with single runs in the second and fourth innings. Matt Joyce singled in David DeJesus in the bottom of the fifth for the Ray’s third run. Shortly after, Brandon Guyer lined a two-out double to left to score Evan Longoria and Joyce and tie the score.
Peavy completed the inning and pitched the sixth. He finished with eight hits, a walk, five strikeouts and five earned runs.
James Loney singled off Miller to start the 15th. Cole Figueroa was inserted as a pinch runner and took second on a bunt single by Guyer. Desmond Jennings, failing twice to bunt, hit a 1-2 pitch up the middle, which Miller fielded cleanly. He turned to second to start a double play, but threw wide of the base into center field for an error that allowed Figueroa to score and give the Rays a third straight walk-off victory.
It was Miller’s fourth walk-off loss of the season.