Closing Time: Cole Figueroa's ninth-inning double hands Red Sox eighth straight loss

Rob Bradford
May 23, 2014 - 6:37 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- And you thought it couldn't get any worse. For the first time since Bobby Valentine's final stand as manager in Boston -- the stretch completing the 2012 season -- the Red Sox have dropped eight games in a row. The latest loss for the Sox came Friday night at Tropicana Field as John Farrell's club spoiled a stellar outing by starter John Lackey en route to a 1-0 loss to the Rays. The loss was punctuated when Tampa Bay's Cole Figueroa doubled in Desmond Jennings from second with one out in the ninth inning, with Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop on the mound. Jennings had reached via an Andrew Miller walk, reaching second on a stolen base. Lackey lowered his ERA to 3.58, turning in his best outing of the season. The righty didn't allow a run while surrendering five hits. He struck out three, walked one and threw 108 pitches before being lifted for Junichi Tazawa after allowing a leadoff single to David DeJesus in the eighth. Making matters worse for the Red Sox was the fact that Shane Victorino was forced from the game in the ninth inning due to right hamstring tightness. WHAT WENT WRONG - Tampa Bay starter Chris Archer became the latest right-hander to baffle the Sox, this time holding the visitors to no runs on four hits over six innings. The outing pushed the Red Sox' batting average to just .205 against righties since their previous win, May 14 in Minnesota. - The Red Sox had a great chance in the fifth inning when Brock Holt led off the frame with a double into the right field corner. Unfortunately for the visitors, it was all for nothing. Archer came back to strike out both Xander Bogaerts and Dustin Pedroia before getting Mike Napoli to line out to shortstop to end the threat. It was the eighth runner left on base by the Sox. - Despite making some solid plays at third base, Brock Holt offered Tampa Bay some life in the seventh by making his fourth error of the season, coming on a Desmond Jennings ground to lead off the frame. The Sox got out of the jam when Ryan Hanigan grounded out to first to end the inning. - A.J. Pierzynski had another baserunning gaffe, failing to beat out the throw to second on Victorino's bunt in the ninth. Making matters worse was Pierzynski's failure to slide, simply running through second base despite the play being fairly close. Victorino was forced to leave the game shortly thereafter with an aggravated right hamstring. - The Red Sox were without pitching coach Juan Nieves, who was in South Carolina attending his daughter's high school graduation. Farrell took over pitching coach duties. WHAT WENT RIGHT - The Red Sox managed to work the pitch count up on Archer, making the Rays starter throw 103 pitches through the first five innings. Conversely, Lackey needed just 72 pitches to make it through five. - Lackey got out of a big jam in the sixth, stranding runners on first and third by inducing a ground out to shortstop off the bat of James Loney.