The good thing about this Devil Rays bullpen meltdown was that it happened after many of Saturday night's sellout crowd had left Tropicana Field and TV watchers' eyelids were tested by the late-night hour.
Still, it happened. Even though the Rays brass spent the past 24 hours remaking the team's beleaguered bullpen, a poor relief performance ended up being the difference. The Red Sox exploded for six runs in the top of the 12th, handing the Rays their eighth straight loss, 12-6, the Rays in a game that lasted 4-hours, 38-minutes.
Former Devil Ray Julio Lugo drew a bases-loaded walk from reliever Brian Stokes, Kevin Youkilis hit a three-run double off Jae Kuk Ryu and Manny Ramirez's hit skated past a charging B.J. Upton in center for a two-run double, all with two outs in the top of the 12th.
Jonny Gomes had hit a two-run homer - his second home run of the night -- in the bottom of the ninth off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon to send the game to extra innings. That marked just the second time Papelbon has blown a save in 25 opportunities. The Red Sox entered Saturday's game 60-1 when leading after eight innings.
And manager Joe Maddon - who was ejected from the game in the 11th after Reyes didn't receive a full-count check-swing call on Kevin Youkilis - blew up and went nose-to-nose with home-plate umpire Mark Wegner.
The Red Sox blew a chance to go ahead that inning when they couldn't capitalize on Julio Lugo's leadoff double. The Rays had a chance to win the game in the 10th with Akinori Iwamura on second with no outs, but Boston reliever Kyle Snyder, a Sarasota native, escaped.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester, making his second major league start since beating cancer, allowed just two runs on four runs until solo homers by Jonny Gomes and Josh Paul in the seventh chased him from the game.
Rays starter James Shields looking impressive early, striking out the side in the top of the first but he allowed a two-out run-scoring single to Jason Varitek and issued a bases-loaded walk to Lugo to give the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. The next inning J.D. Drew's RBI single followed David Ortiz's leadoff double down the first base line to give Boston a three-run lead.
Sacrifice flies by Delmon Young in the fourth and Carlos Pena in the sixth drew the Rays within one, but newcomer reliever Grant Balfour allowed two runs in the seventh.