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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Buchholz, Red Sox Can't Get Past Price in 5-3 Loss

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 14:  Outfielder B. J...
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - JULY 14: Outfielder B. J. Upton #2 of the Tampa Bay Rays homers in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox July 14, 2012 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Image credit: Getty Images via @daylife)
Clay Buchholz and the Red Sox were bested by David Price on Saturday night, but there were encouraging signs everywhere for Boston in the contest. Pitching for the first time since being hospitalized with gastrointestinal bleeding, the Sox starter notched 8 K's in 6 1/3 IP, but Tampa's lefty was just a bit better.

Going for his 12th win on the season, Price also picked up eight punch-outs, allowing 6 H, 3 ER, and 3 BB as well to even up the series at a game a piece between the division rivals.

In his second game since being activated from the disabled list, Jacoby Ellsbury picked up a pair of hits in four at-bats, one of them a double, raising his average on the season to .229.

Also in his second game since being activated, Will Middlebrooks picked up his 11th HR in just 179 at-bats this season. It was a two-run shot gave the Red Sox a 2-1 lead in the top of the fourth.

Mike Aviles, who went 2-4 in the game, allowed the Rays to tie it up in the fifth when he made an error that allowed Jeff Keppinger to score. The Red Sox would waste no time jumping back in front though, scoring their third run in the sixth on a botched pick-off attempt by David Price.

The seventh inning is where the game was lost for the Red Sox. Buchholz opened the inning by walking Luke Scott and allowing Keppinger to reach on a HBP. Both runners were advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Desmond Jennings, which ended Clay's outing in favor of Matt Albers.

After intentionally walking Hideki Matsui, Albers walked in the tying run and gave up a sac-fly to Elliot Johnson for the go-ahead run. Boston was never able to get back into it after that. BJ Upton hit a solo-homer off Andrew Miller in the eighth to give the Rays an insurance run that they wouldn't need.

Fernando Rodney put up a clean ninth inning, with a pair of strikeouts for his 26th save of the season. His ERA sits at a ridiculous 0.91 on the season. Whatever effect the crooked hat has on his pitches apparently works. Maybe the Red Sox should try it.

Boston will put Josh Beckett (4.43 ERA) up against James Shields (4.17 ERA) in the final game of the series Sunday night before heading to Chicago to face Kevin Youkilis and the AL Central leading White Sox.

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