ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. How bad was the opener of the Red Sox' eight-game road trip Wednesday night? Put it this way: the Sox had nearly as many balks and hit batsman (five combined) as base hits (seven).
After averaging nearly seven runs during their home winning streak, the Sox were silenced by Jeremy Hellickson and three relievers as the Tampa Bay Rays held off the Sox, 21, snapping the Sox' streak at five games.
The Rays scratched together the go-ahead run in the sixth after starter Clay Buchholz put the first two runners on the corners.
Andrew Miller got Luke Scott to hit a routine fly ball to shallow right, but with the Tropicana Field roof as his backdrop, Cody Ross had difficulty picking up the ball.
As he twisted and made the catch, Ross was off-balance and was in no position to get much on his throw to the plate and Matt Joyce scored easily from third.
Buchholz committed one balk and reliever Franklin Morales committed two, giving the Red Sox five balks in the last eight games.
The lone Red Sox run came in the fourth when Jarrod Saltalamacchia slammed a double to right, and after a walk to Cody Ross, scored on a single to left by Daniel Nava.
Boston was 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
The Rays had grabbed a 10 lead in the second when Carlos Pena singled, took second when Luke Scott was hit by a pitch, moved to third on a double play and was awarded home on a balk by Buchholz.
That was just the first of three balks charged to Red Sox pitchers on the night. Morales was called for one in the seventh, though it didn't result in a run. The lefty added another an inning later.
More to come . . .