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Closing Time: Red Sox bats stifled by Tampa Bay pitching

09.17.11 at 7:26 pm ET

In what comes as no surprise to those familiar with Tampa Bay’s pitching staff, the Red Sox could not get their bats going against the Rays’ pitching staff and lost, 4-3, on Saturday afternoon.

The Rays did most of their damage early, roughing Red Sox starter Jon Lester up for two runs in the first inning before adding to their total with a run in the third and a run in the fifth.

The Red Sox pitchers did their part. Despite his difficult first inning, Lester calmed down and put in seven innings of work before the Red Sox before handing the game over to Daniel Bard and Franklin Morales, both of whom did not allow a run.

But in the end, the Red Sox were simply unable to take advantage of multiple opportunities to mount a come-back and lost their second game of the series.

Here’s a look at what else went wrong for the Red Sox Saturday.

What went wrong for the Red Sox

– The Red Sox were a terrible 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position on Saturday. Two of their three runs scored on sacrifices. Dustin Pedroia‘s three-pitch strikeout at the end of the seventh inning with the tying run on third was an especially painful moment for the Red Sox.
– For the second consecutive game, the Red Sox found themselves facing a 2-0 deficit entering their first at-bats of the day by virtue of a two-run home run. Unlike Friday’€™s game, the Red Sox did not respond in the bottom of the first with two runs of their own and spent the entire game trying to start a come-back.
– The Red Sox struggled to find a way to quiet Desmond Jennings, who scored twice in each of the last five games between the Red Sox and Rays. Jennings reached base in the first inning on Saturday via a four-pitch walk and scored on Ben Zobrist‘€™s home run. In the third inning, Jennings doubled, advanced to third on a fielders’€™ choice and scored on a wild pitch.
Jacoby Ellsbury stole his first base since Aug. 26 with a swipe of second in the fifth inning, but he promptly ended the inning when he was caught stealing third with two outs in the inning.

What went right for the Red Sox

– Lester was able to go deep into the game, pitching seven innings and allowing four runs on five hits.

– Bard had a clean eighth inning for the second consecutive night, ending a string of three bad appearances. The velocity on Bard’s fastball had dropped to the 94-96 mile per hour range while he was struggling, but on Saturday it was back up to his more typical 98 miles per hour.

Mike Aviles, starting in place of the injured Kevin Youkilis, delivered a big hit for the second night in a row. Aviles’€™ double in the third inning drove in Carl Crawford, cutting the Rays lead to 3-1. Aviles scored later in the inning on a sacrifice fly, bringing the Red Sox within a run of the Rays.

Adrian Gonzalez flashed the leather a few times on Saturday. In the fourth inning, Gonzalez went up for a ball off Casey Kotchman‘€™s bat and started a double play to end the inning after Lester walked two consecutive batters. In the sixth inning, Gonzalez made a diving grab to his right, robbing Kotchman of extra bases and ending the inning.

Josh Reddick got his first hit of the series, a single to right in the fourth inning

Read More: adrian gonzalez, Daniel Bard, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester
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