ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Boston Red Sox guaranteed their first losing season in 15 years with a very fitting performance — a rout at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.
Daisuke Matsuzaka, Alfredo Aceves and Daniel Bard all struggled to record outs as the Red Sox were beaten 13-3 on Wednesday night.
"We threw too many pitches. We must have thrown 200-plus pitches," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. "(It was) tough to look at. Walks are the killer bee."
Six Red Sox pitchers threw 173 pitches and walked 10, six in the Rays' seven-run sixth inning. Desmond Jennings hit a two-run triple, and the Rays snapped a four-game losing streak.
Matsuzaka (1-6) gave up five runs and nine hits in three-plus innings.
"After the first inning, I kept throwing it where they wanted the ball," he said through an interpreter, "and they never miss those pitches. It really hurt me."
It was the fourth straight start in which Matsuzaka gave up at least four earned runs in fewer than six innings.
"After the last time I thought I was headed in the right direction, and I wanted to keep that momentum going, but it didn't end up that way in the sixth," he said. "It's been really hard to keep the positive going, so far. As always I'm disappointed in myself for not helping my team out."
Bard faced five batters, walking three and giving up a hit after Aceves allowed four runs in two-plus innings.
The Red Sox (68-82), assured of their first losing season since 1997 when they were 78-84, got two RBIs from Jacoby Ellsbury.
Despite the win, Tampa Bay (79-70) fell 6½ games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees, who swept a day-night doubleheader against Toronto. The Rays started play six games back in the AL wild-card race.
Four Boston pitchers walked six in the sixth inning, including passes to Carlos Pena and Jose Molina with the bases loaded. Luke Scott had a sacrifice fly, and Jeff Keppinger added an RBI single.
Keppinger hit a solo homer, and Pena added a two-run shot off Matsuzaka, who is 2-8 in 14 career starts against Tampa Bay.
Chris Archer (1-3) allowed three runs and five hits in five innings for the Rays, who won for the second time in nine games. It was the rookie's first major league win.
Boston took a 3-1 lead in the third on Ellsbury's run-scoring single and an RBI grounder by Dustin Pedroia. Ellsbury has 10 RBIs in his last 11 games.
Ben Zobrist, who drove in four runs in the Rays' 7-5 loss to Boston on Tuesday, cut the deficit to 3-2 with an RBI single later in the third.
Tampa Bay loaded the bases with no outs during the second on singles by Evan Longoria, Scott, and Keppinger. The Rays scored just once, tying it at 1 when Matt Joyce followed with a walk. Matsuzaka avoided further damage by striking out Pena and getting a double-play grounder from Molina.
Pedro Ciriaco led off the game with a single, stole second and scored to make it 1-0 on Ellsbury's single. Ciriaco is 15-for-15 in stolen-base attempts this season.
Notes: Valentine wouldn't say if Matsuzaka will get another start this season. "Maybe a little more rest is what's needed at this time of year," he said. ... Tampa Bay LHP David Price (18-5) will go for his 19th win this season against Boston RHP Clay Buchholz (11-6) in the finale of the four-game series on Thursday night. ... Justin Gatlin, the 100-meter bronze medalist at the London Olympics, threw the ceremonial first pitch.