By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
If the Red Sox were hoping to set the tone for their showdown series with the Tampa Bay Rays, they sure had a funny way of going about it Thursday night.
In the first game of a four game set, the Red Sox fell flat, thumped by the Rays, 9-2. The loss moved the Rays back to within three games of the Sox in the standings with 13 games remaining.
It was Tampa's sixth straight win over the Red Sox this season and fourth in the last seven days following a sweep at Tropicana Field last weekend.
Evan Longoria's three-run homer into the home bullpen in right in the third inning was all the offense the Rays would need. Longoria's belt came off starter Kyle Weiland, who lasted just three-plus innings.
Casey Kotchman added a two-run homer off Franklin Morales in the sixth while B.J. Upton belted a two-run shot off Matt Albers in the seventh.
The Red Sox first run came in the third when Jarrod Saltalamacchia drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a single, to third on a wild pitch and home on a groundout by Adrian Gonzalez.
They added a second in the ninth when a Darnell McDonald single up the middle scored Joey Gathright.
The loss was the 11th in the last 14 games for the slumping Sox.