A late meltdown from Andrew Bailey prevented the Red Sox from securing a series win over the Tampa Bay Rays, who stormed back from three down in the ninth to walk off 7-4 over the Red Sox.
For there to be a ninth inning collapse, of course, the first eight innings have to go reasonably well. The Clay Buchholz that took he mound tonight was one who'd been on the verge of disappearing over the last few weeks. After an amazing run had him looking like a legitimate ace again, Buchholz had been wavering, putting up mediocre results and even when runs weren't scoring not really looking dominant.
Against the Rays he was as good as can be. By all rights, he should have carried a no-hitter into the fifth. The only thing preventing that was Pedro Ciriaco looking entirely out of place in center, surrendering a pair of doubles that would be called errors if official scorers ever gave outfield errors on anything other than scooping ground balls or making throws.
Desmond Jennings would break up the unofficial no-no with a line drive single in the fifth, but Buchholz didn't let that slow him down. He would work through seven shutout innings, allowing just the one other hit, and could have come back for more had Bobby Valentine not made an early move to the pen.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had managed to do just enough damage against David Price. After being held off the board for the first five innings, Jose Iglesias would spark their first rally with a leadoff single. The next two Boston batters would end up being retired, but Cody Ross managed to find the gap for an RBI double, and then scored on a hard single off the bat of Ryan Lavarnway to make it 2-0.
Ryan Lavarnway was again involved in a scoring effort come the eighth, but this time it was him coming around to score courtesy of a Mauro Gomez triple.
The truly surprising run, however, would be the fourth. With the first two-hit game of his career already in the bag, Jose Iglesias got a sinker over the plate from J.P. Howell and killed it. The long drive found its way well into the seats in left field for Iglesias' first career home run, putting the Red Sox ahead 4-1.
In the end, though, eight good innings were not enough to overcome the late struggles. After Mike Aviles giftwrapped a run for the Rays in the eighth by completely misplaying a ground ball to third, things really fell apart in the ninth. Andrew Bailey would allow the first two batters of the inning to reach on singles, and while he managed to get Luke Scott for the first out, Carlos Pena hit a line drive to left and stood on first as the tying run. Rich Thompson would pinch run, steal second, and then come in to score when Desmond Jennings added another hit to tie the game. Bobby Valentine finally went to the pen for Vicente Padilla, but that only served to make it an emphatic loss, as the beleaguered reliever offered up a three-run shot to B.J. Upton to end it in dramatic fashion.
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