The pitcher that a team relies on to stop a losing streak before it gains legs, pick up a struggling bullpen, and keep the game close until the offense can bank a few runs is known as the "stopper." Matt Moore making only his 3rd big league start was called on to fill the role of stopper for the Rays today in Fenway Park.
Moore was needed to provide innings as Jeff Niemann lasted only 5 innings Thursday in Detroit and the Red Sox knocked David Price out after 3 inning Friday and Jeremy Hellickson after 5 inning on Saturday. In dropping their last three games the Rays had been outscored 32-9 and were hitting .189 (19 for 98) including .125 (3 for 20) with runners in scoring position.The Rays needed Moore to keep the Red Sox off the board while their bats get on a roll. Overall, on the current road trip the Rays are batting .203 (39 for 19), have a team ERA of 8.56 and the bullpen has been a real problem area losing 2 games and a 16.62 ERA.
The Red Sox bats were not willing to follow that script and after being retired on 8 pitch in the first inning the Red Sox bats went to work on Matt Moore. A leadoff single by Kevin Youkilis was followed by a double to David Ortiz and capped off by a 3-run homer to Cody Ross to give the Red Sox an early 3-0 lead. The Red Sox added a 4th run on a 2-out double by Kelly Shoppach in the bottom of the fourth.
Felix Doubront cruised through the first four innings but the Rays bats came alive in the top of the fifth on back to back singles by Chris Gimenez and Desmond Jennings followed by back to back doubles by Carlos Pena and Evan Longoria to cut the Red Sox lead to 4-3.
Matt Moore kept the Red Sox off the board in the bottom of the fifth and Luke Scott led off the top of the 6th inning with a solo homer to right to tie the game at 4-4. Scott Atchinson replaced Felix Doubront and gave up a single to Sean Rodriguez and walked Matt Joyce before striking out Chris Gimenez on a 2-strike bunt attempt. Atchinson was replaced by Vincent Padilla who struck out Desmond Jennings and retired Carlos Pena on a fly out to right to keep the score tied at 4-4.
The Red Sox came back and regained the lead in the bottom of the sixth when David Ortiz drove in Kevin Youkilis who had walked to score from first and pushed their lead to 6-4 thanks to a solo home run off the bat of Mike Aviles in the bottom of the 7th.
Matt Moore worked the first 6.1 innings (109 pitches/69 for strikes) giving up 6R/6ER on 8 hits while striking out 5 and walking 4. Joel Peralta came in with a runner on first and retired Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz to end the inning. Fernando Rodney worked a perfect 8th inning to keep it a close game for the middle of the Rays order against Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves.
Aceves retired Evan Longoria on a lazy fly ball to right, Jeff Keppinger lined out to centerfielder Jason Repko, and closed the game by striking out Ben Zobrist. The loss was the Rays 4th loss in a row and dropped them to 4-5 on the season.
Up next, the Rays take on the Red Sox on Patriots Day with the first pitch at 11:05 a.m. James Shields will toe the rubber for the Rays and be opposed by Daniel Bard. The Rays are a perfect 2-0 playing the Red Sox in Patriot Day games winning in 1999 (Rolando Arroyo over Bret Saberhagen) and in 2010 (Jeff Niemann over John Lackey).