St. Petersburg, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Sean Rodriguez's three-run, pinch-hit homer helped power a five-run seventh inning, and the Tampa Bay Rays completed a three-game sweep of Boston and sent the Red Sox to their 10th consecutive loss with an 8-5 decision at Tropicana Field on Sunday.
Evan Longoria went 3-for-5 with a homer and a pair of runs scored, and Yunel Escobar drove in two while stirring up some controversy in the late going for the Rays, winners of four straight.
The contentious victory was Joe Maddon's 700th as Rays manager.
Joel Peralta (2-3), who blew a two-run lead in the seventh but was rescued by the Tampa offense, was credited with the win.
Boston reliever Craig Breslow (2-1) yielded five runs on five hits and a walk while recording only two outs in the deciding frame.
Johnny Gomes had a pinch-hit, two-run home run and A.J. Pierzynski scored three runs for the Red Sox, who dropped 10 in a row for the first time since an 11-game skid from June 8-19, 1994.
"We're certainly not in a good place," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We haven't lost our competitive spirit or the way we continue to grind away inside of an inning, inside of a game, inside of a series."
Gomes tied the game with his own two-run, pinch-hit homer off reliever Joel Peralta, but Rodriguez one-upped Gomes by crushing a changeup off Breslow over the left-field fence to give the hosts a 6-5 advantage. Desmond Jennings was aboard on a walk and Evan Longoria also scored after reaching with a single.
James Loney and Brandon Guyer added base hits, then Logan Forsythe popped out before Escobar doubled in Loney to make it 8-3 in favor of the Rays.
Escobar then stole third and the Red Sox bench started jawing at Escobar. He talked back and started walking towards their bench, before Gomes ran in from left field and both benches cleared. Gomes, Escobar and Rodriguez were all ejected after the incident.
"What was the score, 8-3? It was a five-run lead in the seventh inning. So that's not even nearly as egregious as last year in the playoffs," Maddon said of the incident.
The fracas seemed to energize the visitors. Facing Josh Lueke in the ninth, Pierzynski doubled and Brock Holt singled, then Xander Bogaerts lined a two-run single to pull the Sox within 8-5.
Grant Balfour came on and retired Dustin Pedroia on a grounder to third to end the game and earn his ninth save.
Things looked better early on for Boston. Pierzynski singled and Grady Sizemore doubled to begin the third. Two batters later, Holt hit a ball to deep right field deep enough to score Pierzynski, which ended a 16-inning scoreless drought for the Red Sox.
Longoria smashed a homer to right on the first pitch of the fourth to tie the game. Wil Myers drew a one-out walk, while Guyer kept the inning alive with a two-out single. Myers scored from third on a Forsythe single to left to give the Rays a 2-1 lead.
The Rays loaded the bases in the fifth inning and Myers arrived just ahead of the throw on a potential inning-ending double play ball which scored David DeJesus.