Closing Time: Red Sox succumb to Rays in 15 innings for 9th straight loss

Rob Bradford
May 24, 2014 - 5:31 pm

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It started with a different feel, but ended up the same old story. The Red Sox blew an early five-run lead, ultimately succumbing to the Rays, 6-5, in 15 innings, marking their ninth straight game. The Saturday loss at Tropicana Field hands the Sox their longest losing streak since 2001. The game took 5 hours, 16 minutes. The punctuation for the loss started in the home half of the 15th with a leadoff single from James Loney against Sox reliever Andrew Miller. That was followed by Brandon Guyer's bunt single, made possible when Miller and third baseman Brock Holt failed to communicate on who would make the play. Miller would then make another miscue, this time resulting in the game-winning run. The lefty fielded a comebacker from Desmond Jennings and proceeded to throw the ball into center field while attempting to start a double play. The miscue allowed pinch-runner Cole Figueroa to come in to seal the Red Sox' fate. "Got Jennings to two strikes with him trying to bunt which was big. Got the comebacker. I just turned around and, I went to go throw like instinct, you spin around and start to see everything unfold," Miller said. "At the last second, I didn't have a play. I didn't have anybody getting to the bag. I didn't have time to hold onto the ball. I felt like the ball came back to me, the play in my head is to go to second base. Just should have been able to hold onto the ball and get an out somewhere else." "With first and second, we'€™re looking to knock down the lead runner and there was a call to go into second base and [Dustin Pedroia] is a little bit in between by the time he'€™s trying to re-gather and get back over the bag," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "Ball is already by it and in center field." It was Miller's fourth loss in 12 days. The Red Sox carried some optimism after their five-run first inning, but the combination of the Rays catching up to Sox starter Jake Peavy and Tampa Bay ace David Price bearing down led to the nip-and-tuck affair heading into the late innings. Peavy offered a disappointing outing, finishing his six innings having allowed five runs on eight hits. It was the third straight start in which the righty has given up five or more runs. "That'€™s tough, there'€™s no excuse, have got to be able to hold that lead and make it stand up with as bad as we'€™re going," he said. "When things are going bad, they'€™re going bad. Can'€™t catch a break. You make David Price throw 30 pitches and give up five [in the first] and not win that game is frustrating." The starter added, "I was pleased with 90 percent of the effort today. Made way more quality pitches than I had been. We made strides forward. The first two runs, I don'€™t know what you do. Yunel Escobar breaks his bat and hits it where we'€™re not and first and third there, leads to a run. Then you get two balls beat, they hit the ball straight down, one of them is a double and a base hit, there'€™s two runs right there. Both two-strike pitches." Price, conversely, was dominant after his five-run first, not allowing another hit until Xander Bogaerts' bloop single to lead off the eighth inning. At one point the Red Sox only had one hit through 11 2/3 innings (following the first) before Holt gathered an infield single in the 13th frame. Some notes on the losing streak: -- It matches the 2007 Cardinals for the longest losing skid by a defending World Series champion in the last 16 seasons. The 1998 Marlins had streaks of 11, 11 and nine games. -- The nine-game streak in 2001 took place from Aug. 25-Sept. 4. -- The Sox are the first defending champs to lose nine straight while scoring 21 or fewer runs over that stretch since the '98 Marlins. WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX -- Prior to the game, Peavy was singing the praises of Rays outfielder Brandon Guyer. Now we know why. Guyer not only collected hits in his first three at-bats, but plated two runs to tie the game with a fifth-inning double. It was his second tw0-bagger of the game. -- Catcher David Ross might have had a chance at tagging out Tampa Bay baserunner Matt Joyce at home during the Rays' three-run fifth, but he couldn't squeeze the relay throw from Bogaerts on Guyer's two-run double off the left-field wall. -- After making Price throw 34 pitches in the first inning, the Red Sox couldn't keep building up the lefty's pitch count. By the time the Rays starter got through seven innings he had thrown just 100 pitches. -- Bogaerts left the game in the 11th inning with Jonathan Herrera coming on to play shortstop. It was announced Bogaerts suffered from a right hamstring cramp. -- The Red Sox squandered a solid chance in the 13th with runners on first and second and two outs. But Mike Carp, who came into the game with just 10 at-bats against lefties, struck out against Tampa Bay southpaw Cesar Ramos to end the threat. - Although he didn't start, David Ortiz did get an at-bat, pinch-hitting for Jackie Bradley in the 10th. Ortiz would ground out to second. WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX - The Red Sox' five-run, first-inning explosion off of Price was highlighted by A.J. Pierzynski's three-run homer. The blast was the fourth homer to a left-handed hitter surrendered by Price this season. The southpaw came into the game struggling against lefty hitters, who had totaled a .319 batting average against him. -- Prior to Pierzynski's homer, the Sox set the table against Price. The visitors kicked off the game with back-to-back singles by Holt and Bogaerts before Pedroia loaded the bases with a walk. Price then forced in the game's first run, hitting Carp in the elbow pad. The Sox proceeded to made it 2-0 on Jonny Gomes' sacrifice fly. The lead was the Red Sox' first in the previous 43 innings, dating back to their May 18 game against Detroit. -- Holt made a stellar catch on a Joyce pop-up in foul ground, ending the third inning. Holt not only had to range back toward the Red Sox bullpen to make the grab, but navigate the dirt around the pen's home plate area in the process.