Sox get crossed up at critical time

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Up until the eighth inning of Monday’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox had been the recipients of one fortunate break after another in the teams' AL Division Series.

The biggest one, obviously, featured “Myyyyy-errrrrrss,” in Game 1 at Fenway Park.

Then things turned for the Sox.

And with that, the Rays were able to capture Game 3 of the ALDS 5-4 and stave off elimination.

First, after Red Sox reliever Franklin Morales walked James Loney to start the bottom of the eighth and Sam Fuld came in to pinch run, the Rays' speedy Desmond Jennings reached base on a bunt when a mix-up occurred between Morales and first baseman Mike Napoli.

It was a play where Morales probably could have gathered the ball and tossed it to a waiting Napoli, but instead the first baseman made an attempt for it, leaving Dustin Pedroia unsuccessfully trying to scramble to cover first.

“You tip your hat to him,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Jennings. “He put it in a perfect spot in that triangle.”

After a pop out by Matt Joyce, Farrell called on Brandon Workman, and things got even quirkier.

Yunel Escobar hit a dribbler past the mound that Pedroia and Stephen Drew both converged on, with Pedroia banging into Drew. The result was a single for Escobar and a bases-loaded situation for Workman.

The next batter, pinch hitter Delmon Young, hit a cue-ball shot on the first pitch from Workman down to Napoli, who gathered it, but not cleanly enough to throw home. Napoli considered tossing to Jarrod Saltalamacchia, but stepped on first for the second out instead, allowing the go-ahead run to score.

“It (the ball hit by Escobar) was not a hard-hit ball where both guys have a chance at it and they get tangled up a little bit,” Farrell said. “It goes for a base hit rather than recording the out. And then Young hits the first-pitch curveball and pushes it the other way, and I don’t think Nap got a clean grip on the ball to force a throw to home plate.”

While the Red Sox minimized the damage to just one run and tied the game in the top of the ninth, the Rays ended things soon after with the walk-off homer by Jose Lobaton, whose blast off Koji Uehara made a splash-dive into the giant rays tank beyond the center-field wall.

“We’ve had some tough breaks against us,” said Evan Longoria, who hit a game-tying, three-run home run in the fifth inning off Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz. “Those are the things that as an offense you need to get yourself going.

“So we’ll take the one with them two colliding. And then, I wouldn’t really call it a miscue, but Napoli mishandling the ball at first when he probably had a chance to go home. Those are the kind of things you need to win. And so we just try to use those to our advantage.”