BOSTON — The season can’t end quickly enough for the Boston Red Sox.
David Price struck out 13 as the Tampa Bay Rays beat Boston 5-2 on Tuesday night to remain in playoff contention and hand the Red Sox yet another loss.
The reeling Red Sox have lost five of their last six games, 19 of 26 and are 34-46 at Fenway Park – their worst home record since going 34-47 in 1965.
“I think this year as a whole is going to leave a sour taste in a lot of guys’ mouths,” said starting pitcher Clay Buchholz, who lost his fourth straight decision. “To know that you don’t want to be at that point again, I think that’s going to drive just about everybody in this clubhouse to be prepared and to do what they have to do to be ready for spring next year and to begin the season.”
Buchholz (11-6) surrendered five runs, four earned, over six innings, striking out five and walking two. He hasn’t won since Aug. 16.
He fell into an early hole Tuesday when he walked Evan Longoria and Luke Scott to open the second inning. Jeff Keppinger deposited the next pitch into the seats above the Green Monster for a 3-0 lead.
“Tonight was just one of those nights. I didn’t really have a feel for command pitches that I’ve usually had a feel for over the past couple months,” Buchholz said. “I haven’t felt that way since all the trouble was going on earlier in the season. It was just due time. It happens sooner or later.”
Tampa Bay remained three games behind Oakland for the AL’s second wild-card spot and has only eight games remaining, making a loss to the struggling Red Sox in the two-game series especially costly.
Price pitched his second complete game of the season, scattering seven hits and walking none. He tied his career high with his 19th win and is scheduled for one more chance to reach 20 for the first time in his career.
Tampa Bay pulled away with two runs in the sixth when Jose Molina hit a line drive to left-center that wound up only being a single because he pulled up limping at first base with a strained right quad.
Keppinger scored easily from third on the hit and Carlos Pena, who avoided a double play when Buchholz was pulled off the bag on shortstop Jose Iglesias’ throw from second on a fielder’s choice, came all the way around from first. Daniel Nava misplayed the bounce off the wall in left and was charged with an error for allowing Pena to score and put the Rays up 5-2.
Buchholz lasted six innings, allowing eight hits and five runs, four earned. He struck out five and walked two.
Cody Ross led off the second for Boston with a single and scored on Danny Valencia’s single to cut the lead to 3-1.
Price allowed a run when he balked with Nava on third and Dustin Pedroia on second after a two-out double in the third. Home plate umpire Mike Everitt halted play and signaled Nava to come home as the PA system played “Free Ride” by the Edgar Winter Group. Price needed just one more pitch to strike out Ross and end the inning.
Boston’s Pedro Ciriaco led off the third with a single and went to second on Nava’s single, but was thrown out trying to steal third.
Notes: Boston plays its home finale Wednesday when LHP Jon Lester (9-13) is scheduled to face Tampa Bay RHP Alex Cobb (9-9). … Manager Joe Maddon said the Rays are shuffling their rotation, moving up RHP Jeremy Hellickson’s start to Friday and pushing back LHP Matt Moore to Saturday at Chicago. Maddon said the move was about setting up the Rays should they remain in contention for the playoffs. “I don’t even care if he tells them in advance what he’s throwing. He could actually stand on the mound and say here comes my fastball and I still think he can be successful,” Maddon said. … Boston manager Bobby Valentine said injured CF Jacoby Ellsbury, who missed his fifth straight game, could return Wednesday. … The Red Sox paid tribute to the 2004 World Series championship club with a pregame celebration with former players including Kevin Millar, Pedro Martinez and Jason Varitek riding around the field in a mini parade of duck boats. Former manager Terry Franconia was on the first boat and received the loudest cheer when he was introduced.