ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The Rays and the Red Sox have been going in opposite directions for much of the season. They still are.
Boston continued to try to salvage something of its year, while Tampa Bay kept throwing away its slim playoff chances Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
The Red Sox, last in the American League East, used a six-inning, one-hit performance from starting pitcher Felix Doubront and the Rays' combination of shoddy defense and punchless offense to win the second game of the four-game series, 7-5.
The Rays fell six games behind the New York Yankees in the American League East and failed to gain ground in the wild-card race on the Oakland A's and Baltimore Orioles. Doubront (11-9) was the winner, allowing five walks and three runs.
Another night of unraveling and a seventh loss in eight games left Rays manager Joe Maddon perplexed with 14 regular-season games left.
"We usually thrive in these moments," he said. "We're playing kind of tight. We're uptight. ... I don't have anything brilliant to say, we're just not playing well, and we've got to figure it out relative quick."
The Red Sox took the lead permanently in the sixth with the help of the Rays' sixth error of the series and third of the game, a costly two-out botched throw by third baseman Sean Rodriguez. Ryan Lavarnway and Scott Podsednik had begun the rally with one-out singles. They moved up a base on a groundout before Rodriguez fired the ball past first base on a grounder by Pedro Ciriaco.
Rodriguez has four errors in the last two games.
"(Ciriaco) runs well, but that's a play that has to be made," Maddon said.
The Red Sox led 4-3 and added three in the seventh on a two-out rally powered by a two-run double by Lavarnway following an RBI single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Boston had erased a two-run deficit against Rays starter Jeremy Hellickson in the fifth to tie the score 3-3. Jose Iglesias led off with a walk and scored on consecutive singles by Ciriaco and Jacoby Ellsbury. Ciriaco scored from third base on a shallow fly ball to right when Ben Francisco's throw sailed up the third base line.
Doubront provided the Rays' offense an opportunity it could not squander in the bottom of the third inning with three consecutive one-out walks. Ben Zobrist (2-for-4, four RBI) gave the Rays a 2-0 lead by singling to right-center, and B.J. Upton beat Podsednik's throw home on an Evan Longoria sacrifice fly to left to make it 3-0.
"There were a couple calls that he got upset with and they were walks," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of Doubront, "and three runs later, he was on the verge of coming out of the game."
Maddon had employed an entirely right-handed-hitting lineup against the left-handed Doubront, hoping to spark a team that has seen a season-long offensive malaise squander the efforts of the league's statistically best pitching staff. The last five teams to finish a season with an ERA as low as the Rays' 3.27 mark advanced to the World Series.
"Guys are frustrated, and there's nothing we can do about it," Upton said.
Doubront (11-9) was 0-5 over his previous eight starts. He won for the first time since July 18.
Boston, which has won four of its last five games, recouped a run in the top of the fourth when Cody Ross led off with a double and scored on James Loney's single.
"We're starting to come together, and hopefully we can keep it going," Lavarnway said.
Zobrist drove in two more runs with a single in the seventh after Red Sox relievers loaded the bases with a hit batter and two walks.
Boston used five relievers, and Andrew Bailey recorded his fifth save.
NOTES: Longoria expects to play the remaining regular-season games after sitting out Monday. He started at designated hitter Tuesday and went 0-for-3 with the sacrifice fly. ... The Rays set a team record by using 21 players in a nine-inning game. ... At 4 hours, 9 minutes, it was second-longest nine-inning game in Rays history. ... Boston's scheduled starter for Wednesday, Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-5, 7.14 ERA), is 2-7 against the Rays, his worst mark against any American League team. He has not beaten the Rays since Sept. 15, 2008. ... The Rays have the worst fielding percentage in the AL. The last team to lead the AL in pitching and stand last in fielding was the 1945 Washington Senators. The Rays led the league in fielding in 2011. ... Boston has trailed in its last nine wins. ... Podsednik broke an 0-for-18 streak.