ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays talked a lot after Monday's marathon about how proud they were of how far they came, rallying after being down six runs to the first-place Red Sox before Alex Cobb recorded his first out, then coming back from two down in the 10th to push the game well past midnight.
But they still came up short, losing 10-8 in 14 innings.
"It was tough to come away with an L," Cobb said. "But everybody played their hearts out tonight."
Daniel Nava singled in the go-ahead run off Cesar Ramos, who was working his third inning after throwing three Sunday. Shane Victorino started the rally with a single and went to second on a flyout. Ramos intentionally walked David Ortiz, then gave up the soft single to Nava. Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled in the second run.
The game, which took 5 hours and 24 minutes and was the second longest in Rays history, had a little bit of everything, including the mystifying first inning by Cobb, a potential game-saving sliding catch on the back of the mound by Boston's Dustin Pedroia, a career-high five hits by Ben Zobrist and an injury to reliever Kyle Farnsworth.
Also, a glaringly missed opportunity by Evan Longoria, who came up with a prime chance to win it, bases loaded and no outs after the Rays tied it in the 10th, and grounded into a double play. Plus, some flared tempers.
Sox starter John Lackey was upset walking off the mound at the end of the second, barking toward the Rays dugout. And it became obvious in the bottom of the sixth he was mad at Matt Joyce, who had homered in the first inning and dropped his bat after swinging at, and hitting foul, a 3-and-0 pitch the next time up.
Lackey hit Joyce in the back, then suggested he didn't mean it. Joyce made it clear that he didn't buy it as he walked slowly up the first-base line, and a bit toward the mound. Both benches emptied, though there weren't any punches or even noticeable shoving, and no ejections by the umpiring crew led by Tom Hallion, calling his first Rays game since the April 28 altercation with David Price.
Joyce said it was "very obvious" and a "pretty bush league move" by Lackey. Rays manager Joe Maddon went further, saying it was "inappropriate" and an example of Lackey being "a bad teammate" and he could have been ejected.
"I really did sense among the group of Red Sox that they were totally not into that moment because they knew it was inappropriate to hit Matt on purpose, and furthermore because one of them can get hurt,'' Maddon said. "So that's being a bad teammate as far as I'm concerned. In the past, he was always a good teammate. That was really a bad moment for him tonight.''
Lackey insisted it was not intentional, that he was "trying to come in there and get him off the plate,'' and Sox manager John Farrell agreed.
Ramos, who threw 45 pitches Sunday, took the loss after replacing Farnsworth, who left with right arm soreness after facing one batter in the 11th. If Farnsworth, who had "a little bit of elbow soreness,'' according to Maddon, goes to the disabled list — which Maddon said was possible — it would allow the Rays to add a fresh arm to the bullpen tonight.
The Rays had repeated chances throughout the night to score, leaving 13 on, including eight in scoring position, and stranded a runner at third in five different innings. But nothing looked as promising as the 10th, after they already scored two runs to tie, and had Longoria up against beleaguered Andrew Bailey. But Longoria got behind 0-2 and grounded right at third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who started a home to first double play. "I think everybody in the stadium thought the game was over with Longo up at-bat,'' Joyce said. "It's one of those situations he thrives in. For him to ground into a double play shocked everybody.'' The Rays still had another shot, but Pedroia made a great play on Sam Fuld's bunt.
The frustrating series-opening loss dropped the Rays to 34-29 and five games behind the Red Sox.
Cobb said he had an issue with his right middle finger, though a different issue than the cut that pushed back his last start, but it wasn't a factor in his pitching. He also said he was certain he was not tipping his pitches.
"I don't think so, because I didn't change anything the rest of the game,'' he said. "I don't think there was any tipping of the pitches there, I just think they were poorly executed pitches.''
Maddon said Cobb bad some luck, but Cobb took the blame.
"I think I was letting the game speed up too much,'' he said. "There were a couple ground balls that got through, got me in a little bit of a jam, and instead of settling down and executing pitches I let the game speed up and was not really focused on what I was doing. I made the adjustment way too late and by before I knew it there were six runs on the board.''
Cobb said he head "a little problem" with his middle finger, different than his past problem, but "it wasn't an issue in tonight's game,'' Down 6-0 before they knew it, the Rays battled back, including home runs by Joyce, Longoria and James Loney, and tied it in the eighth when red-hot Yunel Escobar doubled with one out, went to third on a grounder and scored on Junichi Tazawa's wild pitch.
The Sox rallied in the 10th against Fernando Rodney, who was not nearly as sharp in his second inning of work as his first, allowing a two-run single to Saltalamacchia after a pair of walks.
Then the Rays tied it again. They got a leadoff homer from Jose Lobaton and took advantage of closer Andrew Bailey's wildness, loading the bases on two walks and a Zobrist single that was his fifth hit and scoring when Kelly Johnson drew another walk.
"I really felt like we were going to win that game all night long, even in the second inning," Maddon said.
Cobb — who had been the Rays' most consistent starter — allowed the first eight Red Sox to reach, on seven hits and a walk. He was hit so hard and so often in the first that it almost seemed like the Sox knew what was coming.
When Cobb did get No. 9 hitter Stephen Drew to pop up, he got a mock cheer from the mixed allegiance Trop gathering of 15,477.
The Rays used 20 players on the night, all but catcher Jose Molina and the other four starters. Infielder Ryan Roberts was warming up to pitch a potential 15th, with the plan of putting DH Luke Scott in the game at first and moving others around.
As disappointed as the Rays were, Maddon was confident they would put it behind them -his rule is to not enjoy a win or sulk after a loss for more than 30 minutes.
"I'm just proud of the boys the way they came back,'' Maddon said. "There's definitely a frustrating component of it. I want to believe the 30-minute rule applies tonight. Go home, get some rest, come back tomorrow, be proud of the effort. If we play with that kind of effort on a nightly basis, we're going to win our 90-plus games again this year,''