- Gordon Edes, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Junichi Tazawa blew a save Friday night, but came away with a win on Mike Napoli’s two-run home run.
The Red Sox reliever was not as fortunate Sunday afternoon, when doubles by Evan Longoria and Asdrubal Cabrera and a bloop single by James Loney in the eighth enabled the Tampa Bay Rays to rally for a 4-3 win over the Sox before a crowd of 35,699 in Fenway Park.
Tazawa has been Boston’s most reliable eighth-inning option, but since the All-Star break opposing batters are hitting .382 (13-for-34) against him. In the season’s first three months, Tazawa allowed just five extra-base hits. Since July 1, that number has climbed to nine.
“Five consecutive fastballs to Asdrubal, which is a little bit uncommon for [Tazawa],’’ manager John Farrell said. “And the last one leaked back over the plate. Even against Longoria leading off the inning, tries to go down and away, ball ends up back arm side and close to Evan on that pitch. It’s been fastball location that hasn’t been as sharp in those moments.’’
The loss ended Boston’s winning streak at three. The Rays salvaged the last game of the three-game series.
Brandon Guyer had given the Rays a 1-0 lead by leading off the game with his fifth home run of the season, driving a full-count fastball from left-hander Wade Miley over the Monster. Miley then set down 12 of the next 13 batters he faced before Cabrera grounded a two-out single and scored on Loney’s double to right in the fourth.
Miley was lifted after Kevin Kiermaier’s two-out triple in the seventh, reliever Robbie Ross striking out Joey Butler to end the inning after a hit batsman and walk loaded the bases. Miley allowed just five hits and walked one in a nice bounce-back start from his previous outing against the White Sox, one in which he was tagged for five runs in the first inning.
The Sox had taken a 3-1 lead with two runs in the first and another in the third off Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, and while they continued to drive up his pitch count (113 in six innings), the Sox managed just two more hits and a walk before Odorizzi came out.
In the first, Xander Bogaerts singled, stole second and scored on Hanley Ramirez’s double off the wall in center, just the eighth double by Ramirez this season, and Mike Napoli’s single scored Ramirez for Boston’s second run.
Bogaerts was hit by a pitch and scored on a Wall-ball double by David Ortiz in the third.
Rookie Travis Shaw made another start at third in place of Pablo Sandoval and had two more hits, both singles, making him 6-for-8 in his two starts this weekend. Shaw scored all five times he reached base on Saturday, the most runs scored in a game by a Sox rookie since Walt Dropo in 1950, but never advanced past second base on Sunday.
Sandoval, who was hit in the left forearm by a pitch Thursday night and hasn’t started since, pinch hit in the ninth and struck out on an eye-high fastball from Rays closer Brad Boxberger.
Ramirez was lifted for a pinch runner after apparently tweaking his knee on a swing in which his bat flew into the stands in the eighth inning. Farrell said Ramirez should be able to play Tuesday in New York against the Yankees.
22hScott Barboza, Special to ESPN.com