BOSTON — A good start and a late rally weren’t enough to save the Rays on Friday.
That’s because they made a mess in the middle, some uncharacteristically poor pitching creating too big of a hole.
The result was a lost night.
The 9-8 defeat by the Red Sox ended the Rays’ win streak at six — which matched a season high — and dropped their record to 69-56. It also wasted a chance to widen their lead in the American League wild-card race as the second-place Blue Jays got thumped 12-0 by the lowly Angels.
Adding to the theme of the night, the Rays lost second baseman Brandon Lowe, who left in the third inning after being hit by a pitch on the right elbow. Manager Kevin Cash said he should be fine, however, and available off the bench Saturday.
“When your team gives you eight runs, you’re normally winning those games 100 percent of the time, especially with how good our pitching staff is,” lefty Ryan Yarbrough said. “So those are the tough ones.”
Yarbrough and reliever Shawn Armstrong both had big hands in the loss, as the Rays let a 4-1 lead in the fourth inning get away.
Yarbrough, taking over in the second for opener JT Chargois, allowed five runs on eight hits and two walks while throwing 81 pitches to get 10 outs. Armstrong followed and allowed three, on a homer by Xander Bogaerts, giving up five hits over 1 2/3 innings. Jalen Beeks allowed another, on two hits, in the seventh.
“Just a rough outing for ‘Yarbs’ and Armstrong,” Cash said. “I thought they threw strikes well. That’s what we’re asking those guys to do. But it seemed like the Red Sox lineup kind of got on a roll and didn’t stop. A lot of pitches, a lot of hits.
“Pulled ‘Yarbs’ hoping that Armstrong could kind of keep it right there, but that aggressiveness and hitting balls hard didn’t go away.”
The Rays built that 4-1 lead on homers by Yandy Diaz, on ex-mate Michael Wacha’s first pitch, and Ji-Man Choi, whose two-run shot in the second was his first in a month, and a sac fly by Harold Ramirez.
Down 9-4 in the eighth, they rallied. A Randy Arozarena walk and singles by Harold Ramirez and David Peralta got them one; and a 433-foot home run to centerfield that Jose Siri launched, then admired, added three more.
“We were trying,” said Diaz, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We tried the best that we could. We battled there to the end and we couldn’t do it.”
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