ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Boston Red Sox blew a big early lead en route to their longest skid in 13 years.
Andrew Miller threw a force attempt at second base into center field Saturday, allowing pinch-runner Cole Figueroa to score in the bottom of the 15th inning as the Tampa Bay Rays handed the Red Sox their ninth consecutive loss, 6-5.
Boston scored five runs in the first inning but still lost its ninth in a row for the first time since Aug. 25-Sept. 4, 2001.
“These types of games are difficult to take when you come out on the losing side of it,” Boston Manager John Farrell said.
James Loney opened the 15th with a single off Miller (1-4). Figueroa ran for Loney and went to second on Brandon Guyer’s bunt single. He scored when Miller threw the ball into center field while attempting to get a double play on Desmond Jennings’ grounder.
“Got the comebacker,” Miller said. “I went to go throw like instinct. You spin around and start to see everything unfold, and at the last second saw I didn’t have a play. I didn’t have anybody getting to the bag and just didn’t have time to hold onto the ball.”
All four of Miller’s losses have come since May 13.
Cesar Ramos (2-3) allowed an infield single and two walks in three scoreless innings for the win. Five Tampa Bay pitchers limited Boston to six hits, with just two coming after the first inning.
“We won that game because we pitched so well,” Rays Manager Joe Maddon said.
A.J. Pierzynski homered for the Red Sox in a game that took 5 hours, 16 minutes.
Matt Joyce had an RBI single and Guyer drove in two with a double off Jake Peavy in the fifth as the Rays rallied from a five-run deficit to tie it at 5. Logan Forsythe had a second-inning sacrifice fly and an RBI single during the fourth.
The struggling Boston offense broke out against David Price. After Mike Carp was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and Jonny Gomes had a sacrifice fly, Pierzynski slammed a three-run homer.
Boston, which scored just 16 runs in its previous eight games, had just two baserunners – Gomes’ walk in the third and an eighth-inning single by Xander Bogaerts – over the next seven innings against Price, who allowed five runs and five hits in eight innings.
“I think we all expected he would go out there and shut them out like he did,” Guyer said of Price after the first. “So we knew we just had to get the runs and back him up, and we did that.”
Bogaerts left the game due to right hamstring cramps and was replaced defensively at shortstop by Jonathan Herrera in the 11th. Bogaerts doesn’t believe the injury is a serious one.
Peavy gave up five runs and eight hits over six innings.
The Red Sox used a makeshift lineup with David Ortiz, Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino all out with injuries. Victorino went on the 15-day disabled list.
Saturday was a planned off day for Ortiz, who has calf soreness. Napoli could sit out a few games due to lingering effects of flu-like symptoms along with hamstring, calf and finger issues. Victorino was placed on the disabled list after aggravating a right hamstring injury running to first base in the ninth inning of Friday’s 1-0 loss to the Rays.
Ortiz hit a grounder pinch hitting in the 10th.
“There is no give up in this group,” Farrell said.
NOTES: Boston recalled OF Daniel Nava from Triple-A Pawtucket. Nava and RHP Brandon Workman, who will start Sunday in place of LHP Felix Doubront (strained left shoulder), were in Syracuse with Pawtucket and left the team hotel at 4 a.m. Saturday.