Kenley Jansen allows two runs in ninth as Red Sox lose 7-5 to Rays in series finale

All season the Red Sox have struggled playing from behind. Entering Thursday the club only had six comeback wins, none in which the Red Sox trailed by more than one run.

The Red Sox were able to erase a four-run deficit Thursday night, but they couldn’t rally a second time in the ninth.

With the game tied heading into the top of the ninth, the Tampa Bay Rays tagged Red Sox closer Kenley Jansen for two runs. Though they were able to get runners at the corners with two outs, the Red Sox couldn’t complete the late comeback, losing 7-5 in the series finale.

But not before the game took a strange turn with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.

After Tampa Bay Rays closer Jason Adam allowed a single to Rafael Devers with two outs, a strange sequence unfolded in which the Rays exceeded their allotment of mound visits, which by rule requires the pitcher be removed from the game. Red Sox manager Alex Cora noticed, came out and gave the umpires an earful. That led to a lengthy review that ultimately resulted in Adam being removed, forcing Tampa Bay to turn to right-hander Erasmo Ramirez to get the final out.

He did, forcing Romy Gonzalez to ground out. As a result, the Red Sox dropped the series three games to one and fell to fourth in the AL East standings.

Early on it felt like it was going to be a long night at Fenway. Facing his former team, Cooper Criswell endured his worst outing since joining the Red Sox. The right-hander threw 100 pitches but couldn’t get through the fourth inning, allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits, two walks and a hit by pitch over 3.2 innings.

Tampa Bay scored on a Richie Palacios groundout in the second, a two-run home run by Josh Lowe in the third, and in the fourth the Rays loaded the bases with one out and scored on a Criswell wild pitch. They added one more on a Yandy Diaz groundout, though it could have been worse if Ceddanne Rafaela hadn’t made a sensational diving stop and throw on the play to prevent another run from scoring.

By that point the Red Sox had scored one run on a Rafael Devers solo homer — which tied him with Nomar Garciaparra for 12th in franchise history with 178 home runs — but they trailed 5-1 entering the fifth after stranding runners at third base in both the third and fourth innings.

The offense finally came to life in the fifth, however, loading the bases on a Duran double, Rob Refsnyder single and Devers walk before Dominic Smith scored Duran with a groundout to first. Then, Garrett Cooper delivered the big hit the Red Sox had been waiting for, ripping a two-run double to cut the deficit to one, and Duran tied the game with a solo home run in the bottom of the sixth.

Boston’s bullpen kept the Rays at bay into the later innings, with Justin Slaten striking out the side with a dominant seventh and Chris Martin following with a scoreless eighth, but Tampa Bay got to Jansen in the ninth. Randy Arozarena drew a walk, Jonathan Aranda singled and Isaac Paredes gave the Rays the lead with a scorched single high off the Green Monster that wasn’t far from being a three-run home run. Richie Palacios tacked on a sacrifice fly and that proved all the offense Tampa Bay needed.

Though he flew out to lead off the bottom of the ninth, Duran enjoyed a terrific game, going 3 for 5 with two doubles and a home run to lead the Red Sox offense. Devers also went 2 for 4 with the home run, a walk and two runs scored, while Aranda and Paredes each had two hits for the Rays.

The Red Sox pitching staff collectively walked a season-high seven batters, including four in the sixth inning by Zack Kelly.

The Red Sox will now hit the road to face the St. Louis Cardinals for a weekend series. Brayan Bello (4-1, 3.13) is set to face St. Louis’ Kyle Gibson (2-2, 3.67), with first pitch scheduled for 8:15 p.m. ET.

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