Anthony Varvaro

Closing Time: Red Sox lose to Rays on Rene Rivera walk-off single

Rob Bradford
April 23, 2015 - 6:13 pm
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- This time you couldn't blame the starter. It was surely difficult to point fingers at the bullpen. Thursday night's loss to the Rays was all about the Red Sox' offense (or lack thereof). Sox hitters managed just three hits and three walks, none of which came off Tampa Bay relievers. It finally caught up to John Farrell's team as the Rays' Rene Rivera rifled a shot down the third base line with one out in the ninth inning, scoring Gordon Beckham to give Tampa Bay a 2-1 win. The game-winning single, which was just out of reach of a diving Pablo Sandoval, came off of reliever Anthony Varvaro, who started the home half of the ninth. Clay Buchholz did his job, turning in an outstanding outing in his fourth time through the rotation. The Sox starter didn't pitch past the sixth inning, but at least he survived the sixth inning (the frame Red Sox pitchers have given up more runs than any other club). Buchholz allowed just two hits and a run in his six-inning stint, striking out 10 while walking three. He threw 104 pitches before being replaced by Alexi Ogando. In 11 starts at Tropicana Field, Buchholz now carries a 1.92 ERA. "I thought Clay threw the ball outstanding tonight," said Farrell, whose team lost their first series of the season. "There was quality stuff for the six innings of work. I thought he threw some pitches with some purpose in off the plate to keep some hitters honest. Four pitches for strikes. Made a couple of key pitches, particularly in the sixth inning. That'€™s been a little bit of a bump for us. But did his job." Perhaps most impressive, according to BrooksBaseball.com, Buchholz managed two strikeouts apiece on five different pitches -- two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball, cutter, changeup, and curveball. "Best I've felt all year," Buchholz said. "I felt that way warming up. Getting here today, I felt really good. My mindset was to build off the last time out. I just about had all of my pitches working the way I wanted to." SWENSON GRANITE WORKS ROCK SOLID PERFORMER OF THE GAME: Rivera. It was his second career walk-off hit. Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox loss: WHAT WENT WRONG - Buchholz, who hadn't given up a run in his three previous Tropicana Field starts (spanning 21 innings), finally succumbed to the Rays hitters in the second inning. Tampa Bay managed to knot things up at 1-1 on a Logan Forsythe RBI single. Buchholz' career ERA at the home of the Rays was the best-ever among pitchers with at least 10 starts in the stadium. - The Red Sox couldn't get to Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, who finished his 6 2/3 innings allowing one run on three hits, striking out three and walking three. The Tampa Bay starter's ERA stands at 1.65. - John Farrell rolled the dice in the seventh inning, sending up Hanley Ramirez to pinch-hit for Sandy Leon with two outs, the game tied and runners on first and second. But the move failed to pay dividends, with Ramirez going down swinging at a Brandon Gomes changeup. Ramirez came into the at-bat 7-for-26 with six walks as a pinch-hitter. "We got shut down tonight," Farrell said. "Credit their guys. They didn'€™t fall behind in the count. They stayed even for the most part. We had a couple of opportunities. I thought hanley had an opportunity there in, I guess it was the sixth inning, or top of the seventh, and Gomes makes a quality 3-2 pitch with a changeup for strike three. But not many opportunities other than that." - The Red Sox went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position, making them 1-for-23 for the series. In the last seven games, the Sox have only four hits in 51 at-bats in such a situation. "When [Red Sox hitters get going], look out. That's all I've got to say," said Red Sox hitting coach Chili Davis. "When they hit it '€“ look out. We've got a real good offense here. I think teams know that, and they're pitching against us extremely carefully and they're not going to be able to do that all year, just can't." WHAT WENT RIGHT - The Red Sox jumped out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Daniel Nava's sacrifice fly, plating Pablo Sandoval. Sandoval reached third after leading off the second inning with a double. - The Red Sox stretched their streak of stealing bases without being caught this season to 12, with Mookie Betts notching his fifth in the third inning. The Sox are one of three teams still not to be caught.

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