ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — You would think that by now, Bobby Valentine would be numb to the ways his Red Sox can lose games.
Not so, he said.
“It still hurts just as bad,” Valentine said after the Sox were beaten, 7-4, on Thursday night.
But this one was a doozy as a joyful game turned sour in a few minutes,
Clay Buchholz outpitched Tampa Bay ace David Price, leaving a three-run lead in the hands of the bullpen after seven shutout innings. Two rookies who could be central figures next season, shortstop Jose Iglesias and catcher Ryan Lavarnway, helped carry the offense. Iglesias had three hits, including the first home run of his career. Lavarnway added two hits, one of them an RBI single.
Then came the deluge as Tampa Bay scored six runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, the final three on a home run by B.J Upton.
“Stuff happens. It’s how our season has been going,” Buchholz said in a tone that indicated he wasn’t all that surprised.
The Sox took a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning and handed the ball to closer Andrew Bailey, who has pitched well since returning from the disabled list.
He was terrible this time. Singles by Matt Joyce, Jeff Keppinger, and Carlos Pena scored a run. Pinch-hitter Stephen Vogt, a rookie who was 0 for 19, walked to load the bases with one out.
Valentine had two relievers warming up, but stuck with Bailey.
“First time he was in trouble. Got to give him a chance to get out of it, I think,” Valentine said. “Wanted to see what he would do.”
Desmond Jennings swung at the first pitch he saw and singled in two runs. Valentine’s faith was gone at that point and he went to Vicente Padilla.
Upton lined Padilla’s fourth pitch, a belt-high fastball, over the wall in center field for his 24th home run. It was the seventh time the Red Sox have suffered a walk-off loss this season.
Bailey (1-1) took all the blame.
“It’s inexcusable. There’s no other way to describe it,” he said. “I’ve got to get that job done and find a way to get out of that inning. … I didn’t get ahead of guys and didn’t put guys away. Just didn’t pitch.”
• Padilla has allowed nine runs on 15 hits (four of them home runs) in his last 9.1 innings. He is cooked after being worked hard all season.
• Iglesias cracked a line drive well over the wall in left off J.P. Howell in the ninth, turning around a sinker. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world,” Iglesias said. “I put the team in a good position.”
Iglesias was 3 for 4. He had been 2 for 35 in his previous 15 games. Confidence, he said, was not a problem.
“I’m going to stay positive no matter what, every single day, and try and get better,” he said. “Every day is a new day.”
• Mauro Gomez, who had an RBI triple, has nine RBIs in his last 10 games in 20 at-bats.
• Get this: Gomez has two triples in 81 at-bats and Ellsbury has none in 285. Try and figure out baseball.
• Dustin Pedroia was 0 for 16 in the series.
What a night. Thanks to everybody for reading. Catch you from Fenway tomorrow.