ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — With his usual late-inning relief pitchers in need of a rest, Red Sox manager John Farrell turned to two prospects, Drake Britton and Rubby De La Rosa, against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday night.
Britton passed his test, but not De La Rosa. He allowed a run in the eighth inning as the Rays beat the Red Sox, 4-3, before a crowd of 30,360 at Tropicana Field.
De La Rosa (0-1) gave up doubles by Evan Longoria and Wil Myers, the second coming with two outs on a ball that landed just fair down the line in right field.
For the 24-year-old De La Rosa, it was only his eighth appearance of the season and the third since he was recalled from Triple A Pawtucket on Sept. 1.
Despite the loss, the Red Sox were 5-2 on their road trip and return to Fenway Park for a nine-game homestand with an 8½-game lead in the American League East.
The Rays won for only the fifth time in their last 18 games and remained in possession of one of the two American League wild cards.
Longoria was 2 for 4 and scored two runs for Tampa Bay. Myers was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.
The Sox averaged 7.6 runs on 11 hits in the first six games of the trip. But they were held to six hits by four Rays pitchers.
Stephen Drew reached on a single with one out in the ninth inning against Rays closer Fernando Rodney, who has been hit hard by the Red Sox this season. Pinch hitter Mike Carp, who had a pinch grand slam to win the game Wednesday, drew a walk.
Will Middlebrooks pinch hit and ripped a line drive to third base for the second out. He caught all of a 97 mile-per-hour fastball but it was right at Longoria.
Dustin Pedroia was next and he popped out to end the game. It was the 34th save for Rodney.
Red Sox starter Jake Peavy walked five batters, matching his season high, over six innings. But he allowed only three runs.
Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the second inning when Longoria lined a ball down the line in right field. What should have been a double turned into a triple when Daniel Nava tried to make a sliding stop on the ball and it got past him.
Myers singled to drive in Longoria.
Peavy walked David DeJesus with one out in the third inning. He advanced on a ground ball to first that could have been a double play before Mike Napoli fumbled it and settled for one out. DeJesus then scored on a double to the gap in right by James Loney.
Desmond Jennings homered to deep left in the fourth inning for Tampa Bay, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead.
Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson was 1-5 with a 7.42 earned run average in his previous seven starts. But the righthander had pitched well in two starts against the Red Sox earlier this season and that trend was the one that continued to a degree.
Hellickson gave up three runs on four hits over 5⅓ innings. He walked three and struck out seven.
Two runs came on home runs by the Red Sox. Jarrod Saltalamacchia snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a solo shot to right field in the fourth inning.
David Ortiz connected in the sixth inning, his 27th of the season to go with 91 RBIs. Ortiz could reach 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the first time since 2010.
Hellickson walked Saltalamacchia with one out in the sixth inning. Jamey Wright relieved him and struck out Jonny Gomes before Saltalamacchia stole second and scored on a double by Drew.
It was the second stolen base of the season for Saltalamacchia and just the third of his career. But it helped the Red Sox tie the game at 3.
Wright struck out the side in the seventh inning. Britton started the bottom of the seventh for the Red Sox and walked pinch hitter Delmon Young before fielding a ball hit back to the mound by Ben Zobrist and starting a double play to end the inning.