St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Jason Bartlett's sacrifice fly in the seventh inning proved to be the difference, as the Tampa Bay Rays edged the Boston Red Sox, 6-5, in the opener of a three-game series at Tropicana Field.
John Jaso had a two-run single, and Carl Crawford added three hits, drove in one and score a run for Tampa Bay, which has won three straight and five of its last six overall.
Randy Choate (2-2) earned the win for retiring the final batter in the top of the seventh. Rays starter Matt Garza lasted only three innings after giving up four runs on seven hits with a pair of walks. Rafael Soriano closed out the game with a scoreless ninth to record his 22nd save of the season.
"To be able to pick (the starters up) -- I mean, they're struggling a little bit, compared to what they were doing earlier in the year -- it's just nice to be there and do our role," Choate said.
Eric Patterson went 3-for-5 with two homers, while Kevin Youkilis chipped in with an RBI triple for the Red Sox, who have dropped three of five.
"Personally, it was a good night, but losing the game stings. We'll come back tomorrow, try to get two of three," Patterson said.
Ramon Ramirez (0-2) took the loss for giving up the go-ahead run. Boston starter Daisuke Matsuzaka was tagged for eight hits and five runs -- four earned -- with four walks and struck out four in five-plus innings.
Tied at 5-5, Boston stranded the bases loaded in the top of the seventh, and the Rays went ahead in the bottom portion. Matt Joyce led off the inning with a single, and B.J. Upton came on to pinch-run. Sean Rodriguez followed with a base hit, and both runners moved up a base on a ground ball. Bartlett's sac fly to right brought in Upton to give the Rays a 6-5 edge.
Joaquin Benoit worked a perfect eighth to set up Soriano for the ninth. The right-hander retired the first two hitters in the order before giving up a single to David Ortiz. Darnell McDonald came in to pinch-run, and the Rays closer got Youkilis to fly out to center to end the game.
Garza worked out of trouble in the top of the first, and his teammates got him a run in the home half on Crawford's RBI double down the right-field line.
Patterson's two-out homer just inside the right-field foul pole in the third tied the game, and Boston rallied for three more two-out runs. Ortiz followed the long ball with a walk and came home on Youkilis' triple. Adrian Beltre and Bill Hall added an RBI single apiece for a 4-1 game.
Patterson cracked another solo shot to right in the fourth, and Tampa Bay answered with a pair in the fifth to draw to within 5-3. With runners on first and third and one-out, Evan Longoria's sac fly chased in a run. Willy Aybar followed with a double, with Crawford taking third, and a passed ball on Kevin Cash brought in Crawford.
The Rays put up two more in the sixth to draw even. A double, walk and single loaded the bases with nobody out before Jaso grounded a two-run single up the middle for a 5-5 game. Dustin Richardson replaced Matsuzaka, and Bartlett was thrown out at the plate on a failed squeeze bunt by Ben Zobrist. Crawford flied out and Ramirez came out of the Boston bullpen and walked Longoria, but retired Aybar to prevent further damage.
Tampa has now won six of its 10 meetings with Boston this season...Prior to the game, the Red Sox placed pitcher Clay Buchholz on the 15-day disabled list because of a strained left hamstring and recalled left-hander Felix Doubront from Triple-A Pawtucket to make the start on Tuesday...Tampa Bay went 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine, while the Red Sox finished 2-for-7 with RISP and left eight.