ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- It's nearly August and the Red Sox' chief problem remains unchanged: lack of offense.
For the second time in the last four days and the 11th time this season, the Red Sox were shutout Saturday night, blanked by the Tampa Bay Rays, 3-0.
It was Tampa Bay's ninth straight win and, for the Red Sox, the fifth straight defeat. Only a week ago, the teams were separated by a mere percentage point in the A.L. East standings; now the Rays have a four-game edge on the Sox.
John Lackey turned in his 15th quality start in 21 outings, allowing two earned runs in seven innings, but got no offensive backing.
The Red Sox had their chances, but they stranded nine and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. They also had a runner cut down at the plate when Brock Holt curiously attempted to score from
second base on a groundout by David Ortiz that was fielded in shallow right field.
Otherwise, the closest the Sox came to scoring was in the first when Ortiz lined a bullet to right field that a fan snared with his glove just over the boundary line. An umpire's replay awarded Ortiz a ground-rule double.
Lackey allowed baserunners in every inning except the sixth, but deserved a better fate.
In the first inning, a three-base throwing error by Christian Vazquez put Desmond Jennings on third from where he scored on a single by Matt Joyce.
The Rays doubled their lead in the fourth when Yunel Escobar led with a single to center, was advanced to second with a sacrifice and scored on Kevin Kiermaier's single.
Tampa closed the scoring with a solo homer to right from Ben Zobrist in the seventh.