BOSTON — Chris Sale is still searching for answers – and a victory, too.

The Boston Red Sox ace remained winless in six starts this season, giving up Daniel Robertson’s two-run homer in the first inning and Yandy Diaz’s two-run triple in the second during a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

“I keep saying the same things over and over: It’s a step in the right direction,” Sale said. “Nobody wants to hear that, but I’d love to be sitting up here talking about wins and all that. At the end of the day, you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. I’m grinding. I’m trying to find a way.”

Sale (0-5) gave up four runs – two earned – four hits and three walks in seven innings with eight strikeouts, lowering his ERA from 7.43 to 6.30. After signing a $160 million, six-year contract in spring training, the 30-year-old left-hander is off to the worst start of his big league career.

Tyler Glasnow (5-0) gave up two runs and five hits in 6 2/3 innings with nine strikeouts, tying for the major league lead in wins. Glasnow has allowed two runs or fewer in all six starts this season. The 25-year-old righty was excited to face Sale.

“He’s an unbelievable pitcher. He’s been one of my favorites for a long time,” Glasnow said. “I still am able to step back and realize how cool the situation is, just to be able to throw against guys like that.”

After getting swept in Florida by the Red Sox in a three-game series last weekend, the AL East-leading Rays won both games in the rain-shortened series at Fenway Park. Tampa Bay improved to a major league-best 18-9 and has won eight of nine series this year.

“I could care less, really,” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said of the return sweep. “It’s more about winning games. It doesn’t matter who it’s against.”

The Red Sox dropped to 11-17, 7½ games behind the Rays.

“We’ve got to start winning games,” Sale said. “We’ve got to find a way, keep doing what we’re doing and just hope the other end of it changes. We’re doing everything we’ve got to do. It’s just not there right now.”

Boston slugger J.D. Martinez missed his second straight game because of back spasms.

Sale’s second pitch of the game was a slider that was about 2 feet wide, then he missed badly inside with another slider before Diaz hit a changeup to the base of the Green Monster for a double. After Sale struck out Tommy Pham, Robertson hit Sale’s next pitch – a 91 mph fastball – into the seats above the Green Monster.

Diaz tripled over center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr.’s leaping try in the second inning, driving in two runs that were unearned because third baseman Rafael Devers booted Willie Adames’ potential inning-ending double-play grounder for his eighth error.

“Obviously, velocity wasn’t there,” Boston Manager Alex Cora said. “Early in the game he struggled with command, but after that he found it.”


Rays: Right-hander Hunter Wood was reinstated from the family medical emergency list and right-hander Austin Pruitt was optioned to Triple-A Durham.

Red Sox: Infielder Eduardo Nunez (back strain) is slated to start a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Pawtucket.


Diego Castillo worked the ninth for his third save. Five relievers have saves for the Rays this season.


The Rays hadn’t swept a series in Fenway Park since a two-game set in September 2012.

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