Red Sox role reversal; Ellsbury close to return; Cook gets fried

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Red Sox role reversal; Ellsbury close to return; Cook gets fried

BALTIMORE - Almost exactly a year ago, the Red Sox closed out their season at Camden Yards, hoping to clinch a playoff spot against the last-place Baltimore Orioles.

This year, the situation has been completely reversed. It's the Orioles who are trying to secure a post-season bid and the Sox are trying to finish out of the cellar.

But as further evidence of how much everything has changed since last September, the lineup the Sox fielded for the opener of their weekend series here featured only two players who were in the starting lineup in Game 162 last year: second baseman Dustin Pedroia and catcher Ryan Lavarnway.

Four other starters in Friday's lineup -- Scott Podsednik, Pedro Ciriaco, Cody Ross and James Loney -- weren't in the Sox' organization at the end of 2011, and neither, for that matter, was starting pitcher Aaron Cook.

Two others -- Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jose Iglesias -- were on the bench in September -- and another -- Daniel Nava - was in the system, but wasn't called up when rosters expanded in September.

Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out of the starting lineup for the last seven games, may return to action Saturday.

The Red Sox, acting on Ellsbury's request, have not disclosed what his ailment is. He missed the entire final five-game homestand at Fenway.

"He'll try everything (Friday),'' said manager Bobby Valentine. "We hope all goes well.''

With Ellsbury out, the Sox had Scott Podsednik in center field.

Alfredo Aceves relieved starter Aaron Cook in the second inning, his 68th appearance of the season.

Aceves has a 1.2 million contract, with incentive payouts of 25,000 for his 55th, 60th, 65th and 70th appearances.

The veteran righty has already earned his first three bonuses and will need two more appearances in the final five games.

Given his rocky relationship with Valentine, it will be interesting to see if he gets the final two appearances to qualify for the next bonus.

What we learned in Red Sox' 4-0 loss to Rays

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What we learned in Red Sox' 4-0 loss to Rays

David Price is embarrassed and the offense is embarrassing, Those are some of the takeaways from Wednesday's loss.

View the gallery here

Quotes, notes and stars: Price's struggles 'crushing me right now'

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Quotes, notes and stars: Price's struggles 'crushing me right now'

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Quotes, notes and stars from the Red Sox' 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays:

QUOTES
"I'm so much better than this. I've just got to get better. It's crushing me right now, but I'll get there." -- David Price

"I've just got to pitch better. That's what it is right now. It's not something else. It's not bad luck. It's me, so I've got to get better." -- Price

"We had the big opportunity with David [Ortiz] and Hanley [Ramirez] in the middle of the order and bases loaded, one out. Figure that's the time we can cash in. But that wasn't the case.'' -- John Farrell on a blown opportunity in the sixth inning

"It got a little worse; the best choice was to come out of the game.'' -- Hanley Ramirez, who left in the eighth with a strained back

NOTES
-- Jackie Bradley Jr., thrown out trying to swipe third base in the fifth, was caught stealing for the first time in his career, having been successful in his first 20 atttempts.

-- David Ortiz has reached base safely in 20 straight games.

-- The shutout suffered by the Red Sox was the first since April 19 -- also against Tampa Bay.

-- The loss marked only the third time this season that the Red Sox didn't collect an extra-base hit.

-- Boston is 2-7 agains the Rays in the last nine meetings between the two.

-- The Sox are now 5-10 against lefty starters this season.

-- David Price dropped to 1-3, 6.52 in five career starts against the Rays.

-- Price has allowed 57 earned runs this season, or three fewer than all of last year.

-- Price has allowed at least one homer in nine straight starts, a career-high streak.

STARS
1) Brandon Guyer: Activated earlier Wednesday after a DL stint for a hamstring strain, Guyer made his presence felt with a solo homer to lead off the second, then added a run-scoring double as part of the three-run third.

2) Matt Moore: The lefty entered the game with a bloated 5.04 ERA, but tamed the Red Sox with seven shutout innings. He didn't allow a base hit until the sixth and yielded just three overall.

3) Logan Forsythe: Forsythe smoked a double off Price to lead off the Tampa Bay first inning, signaling that it might be a long afternoon for the Red Sox lefty. He later singled and scored in the third.