Devil Rays 7, Red Sox 6, 10 innings

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—The Boston Red Sox might have a comfortable lead in the AL East if it wasn’t for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Greg Norton hit solo homer in the 10th inning, and the Devil Rays rallied from a four-run deficit to overcome David Ortiz’s major league-high 40th homer and beat the Red Sox 7-6 Sunday.

Tampa Bay has won seven of 10 games against Boston at Tropicana Field this season, including two of three during the weekend series.

“That game got away from us,” Red Sox second baseman Mark Loretta said. “This building hasn’t been too friendly to us. They had some great at-bats against some or our better pitchers. Sometimes they get you.”

Norton sent an opposite-field drive into the left-field stands on a 2-0 pitch from Julian Tavarez (2-4). Boston, second to the New York Yankees in the AL East, dropped two games back for the first time this year.

“We’ve been up two or three games on the Yankees,” Loretta said. “Now we’re down a couple of games. I think it’s going to seesaw like that.”

Dioner Navarro’s solo homer off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon completed a two-run eighth that tied it at 6. Papelbon entered with one out after Travis Lee’s homer against Mike Timlin.

“We’re not machines,” Timlin said. “We’re not going to hit every spot every time. It just seems right now when we do miss, they’re hitting the ball.”

Papelbon, who blew his fourth save in 34 chances, has allowed runs in only four of 49 appearances. His ERA rose from 0.49 ERA to 0.64.

“We didn’t finish the game,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously we had a four-run lead. We felt good about where we were, and it didn’t end up the way we wanted it to.”

Boston had threatened in the top of the 10th when Coco Crisp singled with one out off Brian Meadows and stole second. Loretta flied out, Ortiz was intentionally walked, Shawn Camp (4-0) relieved, and Manny Ramirez flied out.

Tampa Bay didn’t considered intentionally walking Ramirez.

“When you load the bases for a guy, that really puts a ton of pressure on the pitcher,” Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “What you tell a pitcher in that situation, which I told Camper, is go for the strikeout. Don’t give in on any count. Even if you walk him, that’s OK. So you give him a lot of leeway there to approach that situation.”

Ortiz became the first Red Sox player to hit 40 homers in three consecutive seasons, hitting a solo home run during a three-run fifth as Boston took a 5-2 lead. Only two other Boston players—Carl Yastrzemski (1967, 1969, 1970) and Ramirez (2001, 2004, 2005)—have hit 40 or more homers in three seasons.

Edwin Jackson walked Alex Gonzalez with the bases loaded, and Cora grounded into a run-scoring fielder’s choice.

Kevin Youkilis made it 6-2 with an RBI single in the sixth, but Ben Zobrist hit two-run double in the seventh Manny Delcarmen. Zobrist also hit his first major league homer, a third-inning drive off Jason Johnson.

Johnson, who lost his previous seven starts, gave up two runs and three hits in six innings. Tampa Bay’s J.P. Howell allowed five runs and five hits in 4 2-3 innings.

Ramirez extended his career-best hitting streak to 22-games with an eighth-inning single. His fly ball to right-center landed between right fielder Russell Branyan and center fielder Damon Hollins, who appeared to have communication problems on the play.

Cora had an RBI single during a two-run second that put the Red Sox ahead 2-0. The second run scored when Navarro was charged with an error for not handling Branyan’s throw to the plate.

Youkilis scored the first run from second after colliding with Navarro after the catcher had Branyan’s throw get past him. By the time Howell retrieved the ball, Wily Mo Pena scored from first.

Johnson retired eight in a row before Zobrist homered in the third. Zobrist, who made his big league debut Tuesday, had one hit in 17 at-bats before his homer.

Jorge Cantu’s RBI grounder tied the score in the fourth.

“That was a very rewarding win,” Maddon said, “having to come back as we did against this team, who normally comes back against you.”

Notes

Francona has battled flulike symptoms the past few days. He slept on a sofa in the manager’s office Saturday night instead of going to the team hotel. … Ortiz has six homers and 14 RBIs in his last 10 games. … Boston C Javy Lopez, obtained Friday from Baltimore, was rested after playing in Saturday night’s game. He popped out as a pinch hitter in the 10th and is 0-for-10 with the Red Sox. … Crisp was 1-for-6 with four strikeouts. … Jackson was optioned to Triple-A Durham after the game. RHP Dan Miceli (right shoulder) was activated from the 60-day DL.

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