Tampa Bay's opener with the Boston Red Sox on Monday started out well, but when it was over the struggling Rays found themselves further back in the wild card hunt.
The Rays hope to avoid another crucial loss on Tuesday as they continue a four-game set with the Red Sox.
Coming off a 1-5 road trip against the New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles -- the two clubs ahead of Tampa Bay in the AL East standings -- the Rays were aiming to right the ship against the last-place Red Sox and were getting a gem from Alex Cobb before the wheels fell off.
Cobb did not allow his first hit until the sixth inning, but it was a go-ahead two-run homer to Jacoby Ellsbury. The Boston outfielder then added an RBI single during a three-run seventh and the Red Sox handed the Rays a 5-2 defeat.
"(Cobb) was pitching great, hitting his spots and throwing his change-up," Ellsbury said. "I was just trying to relax, trying to go up there focused."
Tampa Bay's sixth loss in seven contests dropped it five games behind Baltimore for the AL's second wild card position as the Orioles beat the Seattle Mariners on Monday night.
Cobb ended up being charged with four runs -- three earned -- on two hits and three walks in six-plus innings. He also got into a dugout altercation with catcher Jose Molina following the sixth inning, though not much was cleared up about the incident after the game.
Outfielder B.J. Upton offered a different reason for the loss.
"We just didn't score any runs," Upton said.
Hoping to get Tampa Bay into the win column tonight will be right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who is 0-2 in last four outings by has allowed just three runs in the last three.
Hellickson earned his second straight no-decision on Thursday in Baltimore, hurling five-plus innings of four-hit ball, walking three and fanning five in a game that the Rays eventually lost in extra innings.
The 25-year-old is 8-10 with a solid 3.22 earned run average through 27 starts this year and 3-2 with a 4.29 ERA in his career versus the Red Sox.
Boston, which is 8-5 versus Tampa Bay this season, will start Felix Doubront, a 24-year-old lefty who is winless since July 18.
Doubront has gone 0-5 in eight starts since that victory, posting a 7.38 ERA. He lost his third straight start on Thursday, giving up both runs over 6 1/3 frames of a 2-0 loss to the Yankees. It could have been worse as he gave up four hits and walked five.
Doubront fell to 10-9 with a 5.11 ERA through 26 starts this year and is 1-1 with a 3.72 ERA in six lifetime outings versus the Rays, three of those starts.