ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The slumping Boston Red Sox are not in a panic mode after a tough extra-inning defeat.
Evan Longoria hit an RBI single in the bottom of the 11th, helping the Rays rebound after blowing a ninth-inning lead to beat the Red Sox 6-5 on Saturday night and pull within 4 1/2 games of the AL wild card leaders.
``You don't like to lose, but I think we stay in the present,' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ``Whether we won seven or lost seven, our goal now is to win (Sunday). That's the best way to go about it. It's the only way to go about it.'
Desmond Jennings opened the 11th with a triple off Daniel Bard (2-7) that lunging center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury couldn't reach. After B.J. Upton hit a grounder to first, Longoria lined a single to center on an 0-2 pitch.
``We got there at the same time and I heard (Ellsbury) call the ball,' right fielder Darnell McDonald said about Jennings' triple. ``Tried to get out of the way ... The ball dropped. That's about how it's going for us right now.'
Brandon Gomes (2-1) worked 1 1-3 perfect innings for the Rays.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Ellsbury hit consecutive one-out solo homers in the ninth off closer Kyle Farnsworth to pull the Red Sox even at 5.
``It's disappointing the way it ended,' Francona said. ``We played from behind the whole game, but we gave ourselves a chance.'
After Dustin Pedroia doubled and Adrian Gonzalez walked, Cesar Ramos replaced Farnsworth and induced a double-play grounder from David Ortiz.
Farnsworth has blown six saves in 29 opportunities this season, including two straight outings. After the game, Rays manager Joe Maddon said Farnsworth tweaked his right elbow and will be shut down for at least a few days.
Gonzalez hit his 25th homer for the Red Sox, who have lost six of seven. Ellsbury has a 15-game hitting streak.
Boston left-hander Jon Lester (15-6) and Rays right-hander James Shields (14-10) are the scheduled starters in Sunday's series finale. Shields has 11 complete games this season, the most in the majors.
``It should be a pretty good matchup,' Francona said.
The teams begin a four-game series Thursday night at Fenway Park
``We hit a little bump in the road,' said Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon, who threw two perfect innings. ``It's part of the season.'
Tampa Bay went ahead 4-3 when Casey Kotchman hit a solo homer against reliever Alfredo Aceves during the fifth. It was Kotchman's first homer since Aug. 12 off Yankees ace CC Sabathia.
Longoria made it 5-3 with a sacrifice fly in the sixth. He has driven in 63 runs over his last 71 games. Gonzalez hit a two-run shot during the fifth that got Boston even at 3. Gonzalez had just seven hits - including one homer and two RBIs - in his previous 45 at-bat against the Rays this season.
Jennings drove in a run on a grounder during the second, and Kotchman gave the Rays 3-1 lead on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly one inning later.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases on two walks and a single with no outs in the first, but scored just once on Ben Zobrist's grounder. Kyle Weiland avoided further damage by striking out Johnny Damon and getting a fly ball from Matt Joyce.
The Rays went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position against Weiland, who allowed three runs, six hits and three walks over four innings. Red Sox starting pitchers have gone five innings or less in eight of the last 10 games.
Boston tied it at 1 on Jed Lowrie's second-inning RBI grounder.
Notes: Boston has dropped four straight for the first time since June 21-25 ... Ellsbury has six homers in 13 games against Tampa Bay this season. ... Red Sox INF Kevin Youkilis (left hip) will be out until at least Tuesday. ... Boston RHP Josh Beckett (sprained right ankle) threw long toss and at 60 feet on level ground, and could soon be ready to throw off a bullpen mound.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved