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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays

Red Sox finish sweep as Rays squander another opportunity

BOSTON - It was all there in the ninth inning Monday afternoon for the Rays. The tying run already across the plate, Ben Zobrist standing on second, no outs and the three, four and five hitters coming to the plate.

For a team searching for something good to happen offensively, well, here you go.

And then it went away.

Boston reliever Andrew Bailey retired the next three Rays on a pair of strikeouts and a pop-up, and the Red Sox won 3-2 in the bottom of the inning when Mike Napoli's double off the Green Monster in left field scored Dustin Pedroia from first base.

The game ended before two bombs exploded in the packed streets near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing two people and injuring more than 130 others.

“It was illustrative of what is going on,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the ninth-inning rally that was good enough to tie the score but not good enough for the Rays to take the lead.

Evan Longoria and James Loney struck out — Longoria on a check swing that he thought was ball four — and Ryan Roberts popped up to second base.

It was the Rays' third straight loss and dropped them to 1-5 on the road trip that continues tonight in Baltimore with the first of three games against the Orioles.

At 4-8, the Rays are tied for their worst start through 12 games and sit in last place in the American League East, four games behind the first-place Red Sox.

“I don't like it right now,” Maddon said. “Even four games back right now is not very fun. But I'm not overly concerned yet. Honestly, I'm not. In a perfect world, maybe being one or two games out isn't so bad. Four and being on the bottom of the whole group is no fun, but I do have confidence we'll be able to dig our way out of it.”

History favored the Rays during Monday's 11 a.m. Patriots' Day start. They entered the game 3-0 at Fenway Park on the regional holiday, including wins in 2010 and 2011.

Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson allowed a quick run when Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first with a triple and scored on a groundout by Shane Victorino. But Victorino's groundout was the start of a stretch where Hellickson retired 12 straight batters.

In the meantime, Longoria tied the score with a fourth-inning home run — his first homer and first extra-base hit of the season.

But Jarrod Saltalamacchia ended Hellickson's run with a home run to start the fifth and put his team up 2-1.

The Rays, who spent most of their time in Boston talking about the need to stay positive and keep grinding at-bats, opened the ninth with back-to-back hits, something they hadn't done since the second inning of Saturday's loss.

Desmond Jennings led off with a single to left against Bailey and stole second base. Zobrist hit a sinking line drive to left. Red Sox left fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. dived for the ball but couldn't make the catch. Jennings scored as Zobrist hustled to second.

But that was as far as the rally would go.

In the bottom of the inning, Joel Peralta walked Pedroia on a pitch he thought was strike three. Napoli then lined a pitch down and away off the Green Monster. Matt Joyce, playing left field, double-clutched before making the throw. Instead of hitting a cutoff man, he threw the ball to the plate.

It was late.

Game over.

“(If Joyce) got rid of the ball more quickly, gotten the ball in more quickly, I think things could have turned out differently,” Maddon said. “Possibly. I don't know that.”

Joyce said he couldn't get the ball out of his glove because he was rushing.

“It's tough, man,” he said. “It's tough to have that happen in that circumstance, especially with the way things have been going.”

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