- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- It appeared that for the first time this season, the Boston Red Sox would get over the .500 hump, but they surrendered a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning and lost to the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Sunday at Fenway Park.
Through 47 games, the Red Sox still haven't had a winning record and remain in last place in the American League East.
With Boston trailing 2-0 earlier in the game, Adrian Gonzalez crushed a three-run, opposite-field home run in the bottom of the seventh inning for the lead. It's only his fourth home run of the season, and he now has 26 RBIs.
With the Sox trying to protect a 3-2 lead, Boston manager Bobby Valentine decided to make some defensive changes to start the top of the eighth inning. Gonzalez, who started the game in right field, moved to first; Kevin Youkilis shifted from first over to third; and Che-Hsuan Lin was inserted in right field.
Valentine has kept Gonzalez in right field for six of the past eight games, including the past two at Fenway. The decision is out of necessity because of a string of injuries to Red Sox outfielders, and to keep Gonzalez, Youkilis and rookie Will Middlebrooks all in the lineup.
"It's pretty unique," Valentine said of playing Gonzalez in right field. "It's uncharted waters. It's kind of fun."
On Saturday, however, Valentine decided to pinch run for Gonzalez in the bottom of the sixth inning. The manager admitted Gonzalez was not happy with the move, but fortunately it did not come back to bite Valentine in the backside, as Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning.
Gonzalez had another opportunity on Sunday to do some damage when he stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the eighth inning with the bases loaded. However, he grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
That proved crucial, because Rodriguez belted his two-run homer in the ninth for the win.
BUCH BETTER: Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz was in line for the win until Aceves blew it. With the no-decision, Buchholz remains 4-2 after he worked seven innings and allowed two runs on eight hits with a walk and six strikeouts. He tossed a total of 111 pitches (69 strikes) during his 10th start this season.
PEDEY CHATTER: It's rare for Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia to argue with an umpire, especially on the bases. He showed his displeasure with second-base umpire Mark Carlson twice during Sunday's game. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Pedroia knocked a base hit to left field and attempted to stretch it into a double, but he was thrown out at second. He tried to sneak in with a nifty, head-first slide but was tagged out by Rays second baseman Will Rhymes. Pedroia thought he was safe and began arguing with Carlson. In the top of the seventh inning, the Rays' Rodriguez slid safely into second after a double, but Pedroia was convinced he tagged the runner and again argued with Carlson. On both instances, Valentine came out to discuss the matters with Carlson, too.
TWIN KILLING: Red Sox shortstop Mike Aviles and Pedroia have become a solid up-the-middle combination. They turned a pair of double plays at crucial times on Sunday. They spun a 6-4-3 DP in the top of the fifth, then turned a 4-6-3 in the sixth inning. Aviles and Pedroia have quick feet and smooth hands around the bag, and they have a total of 37 double plays this season.
UP NEXT: The Red Sox begin a four-game series against the Detroit Tigers with a 1:35 p.m. matinee Monday at Fenway Park. Left-hander Felix Doubront (4-2, 3.96 ERA) will start for the Red Sox, while right-hander Doug Fister (0-2, 1.84) gets the nod for the Tigers.
3dScott Barboza, Special to ESPN.com