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Moore Too Much for Red Sox as Offense Keep Scuffling

Despite a three-run shot in the first inning from David Ortiz, the Red Sox couldn't generate enough offense on Wednesday night against Matt Moore. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

The Boston Red Sox continued their slide in the American League East on Tuesday night at Tropicana Field as they fell to the Tampa Bay Rays by a final score of 5-3. After an early lead on a mammoth home run by David Ortiz, the team surrendered five runs to the Rays in the fourth inning, and Tampa Bay’s bullpen held on after six effective innings from Matt Moore earned him his seventh win.

Moore has excelled this season despite consistently walking batters, and his wildness was on display in the first inning. After Jacoby Ellsbury was struck by an erratic pitch, Dustin Pedroia doubled down the left field line as the ball bounced off the third base bag. With runners on second and third, Ortiz launched a three-run home run to give Boston an early 3-0 lead.

John Lackey pitched well into the third inning, retiring the first seven Rays hitters before allowing a base hit to catcher Jose Molina. Lackey ventured into danger while trying to get on the same page as first time battery mate Ryan Lavarnway, as they duo loaded the bases but escaped without giving in to Tampa Bay’s weak lineup.

After allowing the home run to Ortiz in the first, Moore recovered nicely to set down the next 12 Red Sox batters. The pitcher allowed just three hits and the three runs, while walking a pair and striking out eight.

Lackey on the other hand began to falter in the fourth inning. After allowing consecutive singles by Evan Longoria and James Loney to begin the frame, Fenway Park basher Luke Scott doubled to drive in the Rays’ first run. After striking out Kelly Johnson, Lackey then allowed a game-tying 2 RBI base hit to Molina, who ended up with three hits a game for the first time since September 22, 2012.

With the game tied 3-3, Matt Joyce skied a two out pop up towards first base. Mike Napoli appeared to settle underneath it at first, but it seemed he lost the ball in the lighting of the dome and it fell inside the foul line up the first base line. The ball rolled but stayed fair, and with two outs, two runs managed to score, both of which were charged to Lackey as Joyce was awarded a base hit. Lackey was pulled in the middle of the fifth inning, going 4.1 innings while allowing five earned runs on nine hits, allowing one walk, and striking out three. He threw 84 pitches, and was effective until things unraveled in the fourth.

The Red Sox failed to do much of anything from there. The Rays used three relievers in the seventh and eighth innings, none of whom allowed a hit. Closer Fernando Rodney entered in the ninth, and struck out Jonny Gomes, Will Middlebrooks, and Stephen Drew in order to end the game and earn his seventh save.

The loss drops the Red Sox to 22-17 on the season, as they’ve now lost nine of their last 11 games. With the first place New York Yankees winning, the Sox are now 3.0 games back in the American League East. Tampa Bay trails Boston by just a 1.5 games as the teams prepare for a southpaw showdown on Wednesday night, as Jon Lester (5-0, 2.73 ERA) squares off with David Price (1-3, 4.78 ERA).

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