Vs. Red Sox
What's new: After surging back into the fringe of the playoff race by winning eight of nine, the Red Sox lost three straight in Toronto, and didn't looked good in doing so. Plus, DH David Ortiz, who had been hot, left Thursday's game with a back spasm, and team officials said they have tabled contract talks with ace LHP Jon Lester until the offseason. Pitching continues to be their strength. OF Shane Victorino is back from the DL, and veteran C A.J. Pierzynski was recently cut loose.
Key stat: A streak of homering in a season-high eight straight games ended Thursday.
Connections: Sox OF Jonny Gomes and RHP Burke Badenhop are former Rays, 3B coach Brian Butterfield is a former Eckerd College assistant; Rays 1B James Loney and LHP Erik Bedard were briefly Red Sox.
Series history: Rays lead 5-4 this season; Sox lead 166-121 overall, 73-69 at Trop.
Marc Topkin, Times staff writer