St. Petersburg, FL – Ryan Lavarnway hit a key two-run double in the seventh inning and the Boston Red Sox outlasted the Tampa Bay Rays, 7-5, in the second edition of a four-game series.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, James Loney and Jarrod Saltalamacchia posted an RBI each for the Red Sox, who have won the first two in the set and four of five overall.
Felix Doubront (11-9) walked five over six innings, but allowed just one hit and three runs while fanning five.
Ben Zobrist finished with two hits and drove in four runs for the Rays, who slid to their seventh loss in their last eight. Tampa fell six games behind the idle AL East-leading Yankees, who were rained out on Tuesday.
"We've just really had a hard time over not only the last week, but the whole season," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "We have to do better somehow."
Kyle Farnsworth (1-6) was charged with an unearned run in the sixth that was Boston's go-ahead score.
The visitors moved ahead thanks to some shoddy defense. They had two in scoring position with two outs against Farnsworth, when Rays third baseman Sean Rodriguez threw wild to first on a Pedro Ciriaco grounder, which allowed Lavarnway to score. The inning came to a close when Scott Podsednik was cut down at the plate trying to score on the play.
Boston then turned a one-run lead into a four-run edge in the seventh. Cody Ross walked with two down, stole second, then, after Loney walked, came home on a Saltalamacchia base hit. Lavarnway brought in two more when he followed with a double to the gap in right center and the Red Sox led 7-3.
"I've been doing a lot of work ... in the cage," said Lavarnway. "I started to get tired and my swing got long so we shortened it back up and I'm feeling good."
Zobrist drew the hosts within 7-5 on his two-out, two-run base hit in the seventh, but Tampa came up empty against Vicente Padilla and Craig Breslow in the eighth. Andrew Bailey worked around a two-out walk to Carlos Pena, ending the game on a B.J. Upton fly out to earn his fifth save.
The Rays pushed across three runs in the third. Doubront walked Rodriguez, Desmond Jennings and Upton to load the bases with one out, then Zobrist singled home the first two runners and an Evan Longoria fly plated the final run of the frame.
Ross began the fourth with a double and scored on a Loney single, then the Sox tied the game in the fifth thanks to an Ellsbury RBI single and sacrifice fly from Pedroia.
Tampa starter Jeremy Hellickson lasted four-plus innings and gave up three runs on five hits, walking two and striking out seven ... Prior to the game, the Rays announced that minor league pitching prospect Brett Blaise was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for violating performance- enhancing drug standards ... Tampa used a team-record 21 players in the contest ... Game time was 4:09, making it the second-longest 9-inning game in Rays franchise history.