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Rays Squeak By Sox To Take Series

It was a do-or-die series for the Red Sox and it all just perished.

The Red Sox lost to the Rays 5-3 on Sunday night in a game that was tight from the beginning. After taking game one, Red Sox fans were hoping for a sweep, but a walkoff home run and tonight's game spun hopes into fears and now the playoffs may just be a far, far, far off dream.

There really is no one to blame after tonight's game. John Lackey did what he's done all year long. He battled from start to finish and he tried gutting it out, but at the end of the day his line wasn't very good: 6.1 innings, nine hits, five runs, three walks and seven strikeouts. You can't give the Rays five runs. If you do, you're looking at a loss nine times out of 10.

No one really stood out offensively. The Sox did the most of their damage in the top of the fifth when Yamaico Navarro and Marco Scutaro were responsible for a couple of runs. In the sixth, Daniel Nava singed-in Adrian Beltre, but that was all the scoring the Sox could muster. Mike Lowell had two hits for Boston.

While Lackey floundered, the bullpen work was solid. Hideki Okajima pitched well coming off the disabled list, going two-thirds of an inning and allowing a hit and a walk. It wasn't perfect by any means, but that was a better line than what he was producing in his rehab stint in Pawtucket. Scott Atchison pitched the last inning, allowing just one hit in a close-game situation.

So here it is: the Red Sox sit 6.5 games out in the Wild Card. The Rays and the Yankees are the two best teams in baseball with identical 80-50 records. Will the Red Sox make the playoffs, or did this series nail the coffin shut?