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Red Sox 2, Rays 6: Bats quiet, bullpen insufficient as Sox fail to complete sweep

The sweep continued to elude the Red Sox Wednesday night as the Rays turned a close game into a big win against a shaky bullpen.

Gail Oskin

Quiet bats and a shaky bullpen effort proved enough to end Boston's chances at a sweep of Tampa Bay Wednesday night in Fenway Park.

Coming up against a struggling Jeremy Hellickson, the AL-leading Red Sox offense may have been expected to do big things. Instead, they gave Hellickson traction. Doubles from David Ortiz and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the second and fourth innings respectively led to Boston's only two runs of the night, with Jonny Gomes driving in each one. Amazingly, even this performance could be considered lucky, as Evan Longoria actually managed to get a glove on both of Gomes' hits.

Had this performance run up against just Ryan Dempster's night, there's some chance that the Red Sox could have walked away victors. While Dempster got off to a terrible start, giving up a no-doubt Monster shot to Desmond Jennings as part of a two-run first, the right-handed veteran actually recovered quite nicely. He would struggle to keep baserunners off the base paths all night, but mostly that was more a matter of too many ground balls finding holes, and until the fifth, when a weak flare from Ben Zobrist and a weak throw from Jacoby Ellsbury allowed Jose Molina to score a third Tampa run, it was enough to keep the Rays even with the Sox.

While Dempster did give up the tie, if the lead had stayed at one run for the last three innings, who knows what would have happened? Instead, Craig Breslow allowed it to get out of hand in the seventh. After Desmond Jennings reached base with one out, Breslow came within one strike of escaping the inning against Evan Longoria before surrendering a Fenway single off the Monster that likely would've been gone in many other parks. James Loney skipped a ground ball down the third base line to put two in scoring position for Tampa, and while Breslow's replacement in Alex Wilson didn't really pitch too badly, Wil Myers got enough bat on an outside 0-2 fastball to flip it into the outfield for two more runs, leaving the Sox behind 6-2--a deficit from which they would not recover.

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