The Tampa Bay Rays came within one strike of salvaging a big win against the Boston Red Sox at the end of a long day that included placing Cy Young Award winner David Price on the disabled list.
But Fernando Rodney just couldn't close it out and the Rays lost the game, 4-3, and the series, two games to one.
"This game is difficult," said Rodney, who blew his third save of the season after blowing only two in 50 chances last year. "Sometimes when you think you've got it in your hands, it's gone. That's how I'm feeling tonight."
Will Middlebrooks hit a three-run double off Rodney with two outs in the ninth inning after Rodney (1-2) walked the bases loaded.
"He hung me a changeup and normally he buries that pitch, and he left it up," said Middlebrooks, who lined a shot to left on a 1-2 pitch to give the Red Sox the lead for the first time all night. It rolled all the way to the wall, clearing the bases and turning a Rays win into a loss.
"When you're a reliever and you walk guys like that, sometimes you're going to get in trouble and that's what happened tonight," Rodney said. "You walk the tying run and the winning run and one swing changes the game."
After walking only 15 in 74 2-3 innings last season, Rodney has walked 15 in just 15 innings this year.
"I don't have any solid answers," manager Joe Maddon said. "We've discussed different things and tried to get him to replicate what he'd been doing last year more closely. I thought we had worked through it and then all of a sudden this bit us tonight."
After walking Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz, Rodney struck out Mike Napoli before loading the bases with a walk to Daniel Nava. Stephen Drew struck out, but Middlebrooks came up with his big hit.
Junichi Tazawa (3-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. He retired James Loney on a grounder with two on and two outs in the ninth.
Tampa Bay's Alex Cobb allowed one run and three hits over 6 1-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two.
"We had a good chance to take that series and that's a series you definitely want to win," Cobb said. "New York lost again tonight so it would have been really nice to gain some ground there."
Before the game, Tampa Bay put Price on the 15-day disabled list with a left triceps strain and recalled left-hander Alex Torres from Triple-A Durham. The Rays are hoping that Price, who departed in the third inning of Wednesday night's game against Boston, will miss only two or three starts.
Ryan Roberts gave the Rays a 1-0 advantage on his homer in the second inning, and RBI singles by Desmond Jennings and Luke Scott put the Rays up, 3-1, in the sixth.
Cobb retired his first 10 batters, including four on strikeouts, before Shane Victorino doubled down the right field line with one out in the fourth.
The Rays concluded a 6-4 homestand with back-to-back losses to the Red Sox.
"The script was pretty good until the walks," Maddon said.
NOTES: Boston closer Andrew Bailey (right biceps strain) had a 15-pitch simulated game. The right-hander will make a minor league rehab appearance Saturday for Triple-A Pawtucket and could be activated from the 15-day disabled list on Monday. ... Red Sox RHP Joel Hanrahan, who had been the closer, had right elbow ligament replacement surgery and had his right flexor tendon repaired by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla. ... Rays manager Joe Maddon said a decision has yet to be made on who will make Price's next scheduled start, Monday in Toronto. Among the options are right-handers Jake Odorizzi and Chris Archer, as well as Torres, who made his major league debut in 2011, when he appeared in four games -- all in relief.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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