With a big weekend series against the New York Yankees looming, the Boston Red Sox will try to avoid their third straight loss as they continue a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Fenway Park.
Boston has played inspired baseball over the last month, going 26-7 to make a run at the first-place Yankees in the AL East. However, the Red Sox have lost two straight to fall four games back of New York, their largest deficit since Aug. 31. Boston will visit Yankee Stadium for a three-game set beginning Friday.
Boston’s mighty offense was stymied by baseball’s youngest pitcher on Tuesday.
The 20-year-old Kazmir allowed three hits and three walks against the highest-scoring team in baseball to defeat Martinez, who had been 9-1 at Fenway Park.
“He did himself proud,” Tampa Bay manager Lou Piniella said of Kazmir. “Not only Fenway, but against a really good Red Sox team, against a legend out there in Pedro. It’s impressive.”
The Red Sox have lost two straight for the first time in more than five weeks. They were held scoreless for a season-high 16 straight innings before Trot Nixon hit a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the eighth inning.
“It’s not disappointing,” Nixon said of the consecutive setbacks. “There’s nothing guaranteed in this game.”
The Red Sox are 16-4 in their last 20 games with three of the losses against rookie pitchers they’d never faced before.
Boston will face 24-year-old Dewon Brazelton on Wednesday.
Brazelton may not handle the pressure of pitching at Fenway in September as well as Kazmir did. The right-hander is 0-5 on the road this season, and 0-11 career with a 7.93 ERA away from Tampa Bay.
He gave up eight runs in 1 2-3 innings of a 14-4 loss to Boston in his only previous start at Fenway on Aug. 14.