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Red Sox swept away by the grateful Rays

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / April 18, 2010

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The Red Sox lost an agonizing game against the Tampa Bay Rays early last night. Then it got a little more painful.

The first blow was a two-run home run by Pat Burrell in the 12th inning that gave the Rays a 3-1 victory in the continuation of a game suspended by rain Friday night.

The shot off Manny Delcarmen came after the Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the 11th inning but failed to score.

“That was a game we felt like we should have won,’’ manager Terry Francona said.

The dispiriting setback was followed by a 6-5 loss that ended well after midnight in raw conditions. Mike Cameron and Marco Scutaro, surehanded players signed to upgrade the team’s defense, committed errors that led to five unearned runs.

The Red Sox have lost three straight and trail the Yankees and Rays by four games in the division. They are 1-4 at home.

“A night like this hurts,’’ David Ortiz said. “April can be a crazy month in baseball, but you don’t expect this. Not from this team.’’

There were nearly as many empty seats as filled at Fenway Park when the second game started at 9:05 p.m., many fans deciding to stay home rather than brave the cold, damp weather to watch a team that has so far been uninspiring.

Those who skipped the game missed only a few moments of excitement.

The top of the first inning took 26 minutes to complete as Clay Buchholz threw only 19 of 43 pitches for strikes and allowed four runs. All were unearned thanks to a Little League error by Cameron, who closed his glove too early trying to catch a two-out fly ball off the bat of Carlos Pena.

“It’s a play I should have made. The ball just cut a little bit,’’ Cameron said. “It’s a play I’ve made a million times and I should have made it. It seemed like it turned the whole game.’’

One run scored on the misplay. Buchholz then walked B.J. Upton to load the bases before Burrell drove a three-run double to right field that stuck in the mud on the warning track.

“We had a chance to get out of it with one [run] and we didn’t,’’ Francona said. “That was a huge difference in the game.’’

Buchholz (1-1) flipped the switch after the first inning and retired 13 of the last 15 batters he faced, seven by strikeout.

An error by Scutaro, his third this season, helped give the Rays an unearned run off Scott Atchison in the sixth. Evan Longoria added a long solo home run in the seventh, a blast off Atchison that soared halfway up the light tower in left field.

“We talked all spring about how good we’re going to be defensively,’’ Francona said. “We’ve not done that consistently yet. I think we will, I know we will. When we don’t, we need to pick each other up.’’

Tampa Bay starter James Shields came into the game 0-6 with an 8.04 ERA in six career starts at Fenway. But the righthander held the Red Sox scoreless over the first four innings.

The Sox to that point had scored one run in their previous 26 innings.

That changed when Scutaro homered over the wall in the fifth inning, his first of the season. Shields got two quick outs in the seventh before Scutaro singled and scored on Dustin Pedroia’s fifth home run, a drive into the Green Monster seats.

Shields stayed in the game, giving up a single to Victor Martinez on his 121st pitch. Reliever Andy Sonnanstine’s second pitch to Kevin Youkilis was an 85-mile-per-hour fastball. That was deposited over the wall and the stragglers who had stayed were glad they did.

But Rays relievers Dan Wheeler and Rafael Soriano held the Sox down as Tampa Bay won its fifth straight. It was the second save of the day for Soriano, who has four on the season.

“The comeback was good, it was spirited,’’ Francona said. “We tried, but we spotted them too many runs.’’

The completion of Friday’s game saw the Red Sox load the bases in the 11th inning against Lance Cormier.

J.D. Drew started the inning with a single, breaking an 0-for-14 skid. Pedroia followed with a single before Youkilis reached on an error by Longoria at third.

Ortiz had a chance to win the game but tapped a grounder to first that the Rays turned into a forceout at the plate. Adrian Beltre followed with a grounder to third. Longoria stepped on the base for the second out and threw to first to complete the double play.

“We had to elevate something and we couldn’t do it,’’ Francona said.

After Daniel Bard pitched two perfect innings, Delcarmen started the 12th by walking Longoria. Two outs later, Burrell drove a 2-and-0 fastball into the seats above the wall in left-center.

It was his first home run of the season and only his sixth hit in 28 at-bats this season. Burrell had not driven in a run this season before the home run.

Jason Varitek doubled off Soriano with one out in the bottom of the inning. But Cameron fouled out before Scutaro popped to right. Cormier (2-0) pitched three scoreless innings.

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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