BOSTON (AP) - With the offense stalling for the second time in three games, the Boston Red Sox saw their lead in the American League East drop back to just half a game.
Tampa Bay has been reeling in the Red Sox for the last month and got a full game closer with a 5-1 win Wednesday night at Fenway Park.
David Price pitched a five-hitter for his third complete game of the season and kept Boston's bats out of synch all night with the exception of a solo homer by Mike Napoli in the seventh.
``He was throwing strikes all night long. I think up until about the sixth inning he was right around 80 percent strikes,' Boston manager John Farrell said. ``He never gave us a chance to build any kind of inning. Tip your hat. He pitched one heck of a game against us.'
Wil Myers had a two-run single for the Rays as they won for the 19th time in 22 games. James Loney had two hits and drove in a run for the Rays. Tampa Bay can pull ahead of the Red Sox atop the division with a win in the series finale on Thursday.
The Rays also shut out Boston 3-0 in the series opener on Monday. The Red Sox have lost five of eight.
``It's just part of the game. There's never a concern. You never want to look at it that way,' said Shane Victorino, who had two of Boston's five hits. ``The bottom line is we're still in first place. That's how I look at it. Give credit where credit is due. David Price pitched a great game.'
Price (5-5) needed only 97 pitches for his seventh career complete game. He struck out four and didn't walk a batter. Since returning from a 47-day stint on the disabled list because of a triceps strain, he is 4-1 with a 1.76 ERA in five starts.
The 27-year old left-hander overpowered Boston's hitters, relying on a hard mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to lower his career ERA to 1.96 in Fenway Park. That is the lowest mark among active pitchers with at least 20 innings there.
Felix Doubront (7-4) gave up three runs and six hits. He walked two and struck out six in 6 2-3 innings. It was his 13th straight game allowing three runs or fewer, the best stretch by a Red Sox left-hander since at least 1920.
Boston lost for the fifth time in 15 games against the Rays.
Tampa Bay jumped ahead with three runs in the third on Myers' two-run single and Sean Rodriguez's sacrifice fly. Myers' bloop fell into shallow center after the Rays loaded the bases on two singles and a fielder's choice.
In the seventh, Napoli homered over the seats above the Green Monster and out of the park.
Loney and Jose Molina each had RBI singles off Matt Thornton to push the Rays' lead to 5-1 in the eighth.
Like in the opening game of the series when left-hander Matt Moore threw a two-hitter in a 3-0 victory, the Red Sox had trouble stringing hits together.
In the fifth, Napoli had a leadoff double, but the next three hitters flied out. Boston also had leadoff singles in the second and fourth, but Price retired the side easily both times.
Doubront had been 3-0 with a 1.83 ERA in his previous six starts, allowing two earned runs or fewer in all of them.
NOTES: Rays manager Joe Maddon juggled his lineup, moving Evan Longoria up to the No. 2 spot. ``Hopefully he'll see a different type of pitching,' Maddon said. Longoria had homered in three of his previous five games, but hit just .136 in his previous 18 with one homer. Maddon inserted hot rookie Myers in the cleanup spot. ... Boston sends John Lackey (7-7, 2.95 ERA) against Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson (9-3, 4.62 ERA) in the series finale on Thursday. ... The Rays' touted prospect RHP Taylor Guerrieri underwent ulnar collateral ligament surgery on Wednesday, which was performed by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. Guerrieri He is expected to miss the rest of this season and part of next season.
The Associated Press News Service
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