Hours after seeing the trade deadline come and go without acquiring a starting pitcher, the Red Sox were rocked by the Rays by a final score of 7-3 at Tropicana Field on Friday night.
Martin Perez, making his 21st start of the season for the Sox, was shelled for six runs — all of which were earned — on seven hits and one walk to go along with three strikeouts over four innings of work.
The one walk proved to be what did Perez in out of the gate, as he issued a two-out free pass to Austin Meadows before serving up a two-run home run to Yandy Diaz in the first inning, giving Tampa Bay an early 2-0 lead.
More two-out trouble arose for Perez in the bottom half of the third, with the veteran left-hander nearly maneuvering his way around a one-out single to Nelson Cruz, but instead gave up a two-out base hit to Diaz, which was followed by a two-run double off the bat of rookie phenom Wander Franco.
The Boston bats, matched up against Rays starter Josh Fleming, battled back in the fourth, as Xander Bogaerts led things off with a groundball single and came into score his side’s first run of the night following a Hunter Renfroe walk and Christian Vazquez RBI single.
Vazquez, however, was thrown out as second base as he attempted to extend his single into a double, though Bobby Dalbec was able to drive in Renfroe to cut the Sox’ deficit in half at 4-2.
Despite cutting into the Rays’ lead, Perez fell victim to the long ball once more in the bottom of the fourth, as he served up a pair of solo homers to Mike Zunino and Randy Arozarena before recording the final out of the inning in what had become a 6-2 game.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 72 (45 strikes), the 30-year-old southpaw was ultimately hit with his seventh loss of the year while seeing his ERA on the season inflate to 4.56.
Another run-scoring double courtesy of Renfroe off Fleming pulled Boston back to within three runs in their half of the fifth, but Red Sox reliever Yacksel Rios gave that run right back by giving up a one-out triple to Franco that was followed by a wild pitch that allowed Franco to easily score and make it a 7-3 contest in favor of Tampa Bay.
From there, Rios tossed a scoreless sixth inning, Hirokazu Sawamura stranded a pair of runners in the seventh in his return from the injured list, and Josh Taylor twirled a shutout bottom of the eighth to hold the Rays at seven runs.
That said, the Sox offense was not able to get anything going against the Rays bullpen, and 7-3 would go on to be Friday’s final score.
With the loss, their second straight, the Red Sox fall to 63-42 on the season while their lead over the Rays for first place in the American League East decreased to just 1/2 a game.
Some additional notes from Friday night:
Next up: Eovaldi vs. Yarbrough
The Red Sox will turn to right-hander Nathan Eovaldi as they look to halt their two-game losing streak in the middle game of this pivotal three-game weekend series.
The Rays will counter with left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who has allowed 14 runs (11 earned) over seven innings of work spanning two outings (one start) against the Sox this season.
First pitch Saturday is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Martin Perez: Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)