By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Through his first four starts since being added to the Red Sox rotation, Andrew Miller had occasional bouts of wildness, but managed to limit the damage done by walks.
Not Friday night.
Miller walked five in just 2 23 innings and was tagged for a grand slam by Ben Zobrist as the Red Sox came out of the second half chute in inglorious fashion, beaten soundly by the Tampa Bay Rays, 9-6.
The setback snapped the Red Sox' six-game winning streak and represented just their second loss in the last dozen games.
Miller issued two walks in the first, helping the Rays take an early lead. In the second, he walked another, helping to set the stage for Zobrist's bases-loaded blast.
After his second walk in the third, Miller was removed as the Red Sox were forced to piece the remainder of the game together with their bullpen.
The first three Red Sox runs came on solo homers: Darnell McDonald in the second inning; Jacoby Ellsbury in the third; and Dustin Pedroia in the sixth.
Eventually, Marco Scutaro hit one out with a runner on base (Yamaico Navarro), but it was far too little, too late.
A run-scoring single by Kevin Youkilis closed out the scoring.
STAR OF THE GAME: Ben Zobrist
Zobrist cranked his fifth career grand slam in the second inning, staking the Rays to a 5-1 lead early and helping to set the tone. He later walked with the bases loaded to force in another run.
Zobrist had knocked in just eight runs at home in the first half of the season. Friday night alone, he had five.
HONORABLE MENTION: David Price
Price only went six innings, but by then, the Rays had build a sizeable lead and though Price gave up a career high of three homers in that span, he had the good sense to give them up with bases empty each time.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Andrew Miller
Miller was too wild for his own good, walking five in just 2 23 innings. His start Friday was his worst since being promoted from Triple A last month.
The five walks represented a season high as Miller was charged with his first loss in five starts.
TURNING POINT: Ortiz strikes out in eighth
After falling behind early, the Red Sox were chipping away to the point where they had David Ortiz coming to the plate in the eighth, trailing by three with one out.
Had Ortiz gotten on base, it would have brought the potential tying run to the plate. Instead, Ortiz was badly fooled on a pitch from rookie lefty Jake McGee and the Sox' comeback hopes were dashed.
BY THE NUMBERS: 11
When the teams met here last month, they combined to score 13 runs in three games - or, two fewer than they did Friday night.
QUOTE OF NOTE:
"The walks really hurt. All of the balls (he threw) were bunched together. It's a tough way to pitch.'' Terry Francona on Andrew Miller.