All it took was one swing of the bat from Evan Longoria to change this game as his grand slam in the 5th inning put the Tampa Bay Rays ahead for good as they went on to beat the Boston Red Sox 6-2 in front of 27,045 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, FL.
It’s the second straight loss for the Red Sox as they fall to 14-9 and out of first place as the Toronto Blue Jays won tonight. The Rays improve to 10-14 and have now climbed out of the basement in the AL East.
One bad inning for Justin Masterson was it all took for the Red Sox to lose tonight. Masterson went 6 innings, allowing 6 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks while striking out 6. Manny Delcarmen gave up a hit and a walk in his inning of work and the perfection of Ramon Ramirez continued as he worked a perfect 8th inning.
Andy Sonnanstine wasn’t spectacular for the Rays tonight but the Red Sox really couldn’t find a way to break through against him. He went 5 2/3 innings, giving up 2 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks while striking out 1. The Rays bullpen though was solid as the relievers combined to give up 1 hit and 2 walks in 3 1/3 innings.
Dustin Pedroia led the Red Sox with 3 hits on the evening. Kevin Youkilis brought his average back over .400 with two hits while J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek and Julio Lugo had the other hits with Drew adding an RBI. Jason Bay added an RBI on a bases loaded walk, one of two walks on the night for him.
The Red Sox picked up their first run in the 3rd inning.
Jacoby Ellsbury grounded out for the first out and Pedroia followed with a single. After a David Ortiz fly out, Pedroia went to third on a Youkilis double. Sonnanstine then walked Drew and then Bay to force in Pedroia with the first Red Sox run of the night. Sonnanstine got out of the inning when Lowell grounded into a fielder’s choice.
Sonnanstine got the first two outs on fly balls to left off the bats of Pedroia and Big Papi. Youk followed with a ground rule double to deep center and came in on a Drew single to make it 2-0 Red Sox. Bay popped out to second to end the inning.
Masterson had been cruising right along through the first four innings, then the Rays figured him out in the 5th.
Gabe Gross led off with a single and went to second on a walk to Akinori Iwamura. Both runners moved up 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Dioner Navarro. Masterson loaded up the bases when he plunked Jason Bartlett. B.J. Upton brought in Gross with a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 2-1. Given his success against Longoria, Masterson pitched around Carl Crawford but ended up walking to him to load the bases.
Masterson got ahead of Longoria 0-2 before he battled back to make ita 2-2 count. Longoria then got a pitch that he drove into the seats into left field for a grand slam and a 5-2 Rays lead. Carlos Peña followed with a home run into the right field seats to provide the final margin of 6-2.
At some point, the Red Sox will beat the Rays and may be even win a series. In order to salvage a split of this series, they’ll need a win first with Tim Wakefield on the mound tomorrow night and gulp, Brad Penny on Sunday.. Wakefield will be opposed by Rays rookie Jeff Niemann while Penny gets James Shields. First pitch is scheuled for 7:08 PM tomorrow night and as always, the game will be on NESN.