The Red Sox received one of their best starting pitching performances of the season at Tropicana Field on Thursday night, yet were walked off by the Rays on a wild pitch and wound up losing 1-0.
Pivetta did not allow a single hit while walking two, plunking one, and striking out eight over 6 2/3 innings of work.
The right-hander was locked in from the get-go, as he made a statement by punching out the side in the first and taking a perfect game into the fourth, at which point he walked Brandon Lowe to begin the inning.
Lowe helped out Pivetta, though, as he ran into an inning-ending double play, while Hunter Renfroe contributed to the cause in the fifth by making a fantastic leaping catch on a Ji-Man Choi line out to deep right field.
After working his way around a HBP in the sixth, Pivetta came back out for the seventh with his pitch count rising, recorded the first two outs, but then got the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora with a string of left-handed bats due to hit for Tampa Bay.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 100 (58 strikes), the 28-year-old hurler turned to his four-seam fastball 45% of the time he was on the mound Thursday, inducing five swings-and-misses while topping out at 98.6 mph with the pitch.
Ultimately hit with the no-decision while lowering his ERA on the season to 4.00, Pivetta’s next start should come against the Royals back at Fenway Park next Tuesday.
In relief of Pivetta, left-hander Josh Taylor came on to record the final out of the seventh, which he needed just six pitches to do to extend his scoreless appearance to 22 consecutive games.
From there, Darwinzon Hernandez issued a one-out double to Keven Kiermaier in the eighth that saw the Sox’ combined no-hit bid come to an end. But Adam Ottavino was able to get out of the inning unscathed.
Matt Barnes got the call for the ninth in a scoreless contest, and he got the first two outs of the inning relatively easily before yielding a groundball single to old friend Manuel Margot.
Margot stole second and advanced to third on a Christian Vazquez throwing error, which put him in position to score the game-winning run on a wild pitch moments later.
Despite not being charged with an earned run, Barnes did pick up his second loss of the year.
On the other side of things, the Red Sox lineup was matched up against another veteran right-hander in the form of Michael Wacha.
Like Pivetta, Wacha was nearly perfect to begin things on Thursday, as he did not allow his first hit — a bloop single off the bat of Christian Vazquez — until the fifth inning.
Vazquez was able to steal second and even moved up to third on a throwing error, but was left there when Bobby Dalbec struck out to extinguish the threat.
Boston threatened once more with two outs in the sixth, with J.D. Martinez singling and Xander Bogaerts drawing a walk off Rays reliever Drew Rasmussen.
Alas, Rafael Devers grounded out to third, and another scoring opportunity was done away with.
That trend continued in the seventh, with Renfroe leading things off with a hard-hit double, but ultimately being gunned down by Kiermaier at home plate on a Vazquez single.
Vazquez’s time on the base paths in the eighth did not last all that long, as he was picked off at second base by Rays catcher Francisco Mejia. And that would prove to be their last legitimate scoring chance.
All in all, the Red Sox went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base as a team in Thursday’s 1-0 loss.
With the loss, Boston falls to 44-31 on the season while moving to a half game back of Tampa Bay for first place in the American League East. They have dropped their last two series.
Next up, the Sox will fly back to Boston and welcome the Yankees into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park that begins on Friday night.
Left-hander Martin Perez will get the start for Boston in the series opener, while right-hander Domingo German will do the same for New York.
First pitch Friday is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of Matt Barnes: Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)