Cobb aims for extended start as Rays battle Red Sox

Alex Cobb had electric stuff his last time out. However, he couldn't get out of the fifth inning. With a taxed bullpen, though, the Tampa Bay Rays will need better than that on Thursday when they wrap up a three-game set versus the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.

Cobb allowed three runs on Friday to the San Diego Padres, but also struck out 13 batters in just 4 2/3 innings and received a no-decision. He became the first major leaguer to fan 13 while failing to complete five innings.

"I don't know if that's a good thing," said Cobb, who threw 112 pitches in the effort. "As a starting pitcher, you want to go at least five innings every time out.

"I can't really explain why or how that happened. It was just one of those weird days," Cobb said. "Obviously, that's not my goal. I never go into a game trying to strike everybody out."

A Boston native, Cobb is 4-2 on the season with a 3.09 ERA. One of his losses came to the Red Sox and he is 2-2 in four starts against them with a 3.18 ERA.

Tampa may need to stretch Cobb out a bit on Thursday after David Price was forced to leave in the third inning of Wednesday's 9-2 loss with left triceps tightness.

Stephen Drew's grand slam capped an eight-run third inning for Boston while Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Jonny Gomes each added an RBI during the onslaught to help the Red Sox put the brakes on a three-game slide.

Jon Lester (6-0) worked seven solid innings, giving up eight hits and two runs with five strikeouts. The 29-year-old lefty hasn't lost since Sept. 26, 2012 in a start at Fenway against Tampa, and hasn't dropped a road decision since Sept. 16 of last season at Toronto.

"Finally, we broke out with the eight runs in one inning," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "It gave us some cushion to allow Lester to go out and pitch. More than anything, for our guys to go up and swing with some freedom, take some at-bats with some confidence. A good night offensively, particularly in the one inning."

Desmond Jennings hit an RBI triple and Ben Zobrist also knocked in a run for the Rays, whose season-high six-game win streak came to an end.

Price (1-4), meanwhile, departed after just 2 1/3 frames, but was tagged for five hits and four runs. Jamey Wright subbed for the reigning AL Cy Young winner, but surrendered the other four BoSox runs in the inning.

"No excuses, I just stunk tonight," Wright said. "I threw two sinkers right down the middle. One got hit for a double and one got hit up the middle. Then a cutter into Drew, I tried to go up and in and I threw it right down and in right into his swing path. He hit a home run. It was awful. I didn't do my job out there today."

Getting the call for the Red Sox on Thursday will be lefty Felix Doubront, who is 3-1 with a 6.40 ERA. Doubront did not get a decision the last time he pitched on May 8 against Minnesota, as he allowed six runs and 11 hits in 5 1/3 frames of a 15-8 loss.

Doubront is 2-1 in seven games (4 starts) against the Rays with a 3.91 ERA.

Boston swept a three-game set from the Rays earlier in the year.