ST. PETERSBURG, Florida — Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli made no excuses for a key defensive miscue.
Napoli misplayed a popup at first base during a five-run fourth inning for Tampa Bay, and the Rays rallied to beat the Red Sox 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Red Sox starter John Lackey breezed through the first two innings before working through a tight spot in third, when Tampa Bay loaded the bases with two outs but did not score. The Red Sox weren't as fortunate in the fourth, when the Rays turned five singles and Luke Scott's RBI double into five runs.
Jose Molina's two-run single made it 3-3, and Napoli misjudged Matt Joyce's infield pop fly that dropped for a two-run single and gave Tampa Bay a 5-3 lead.
"My first read was stay back and then I started running in, and overran it," Napoli said. "It's a white roof, but I saw the ball. That's a play I should have made and I didn't. I feel bad because John got the guy to pop up. It's a big play. I didn't make it and they score two runs off of it."
Red Sox manager John Farrell called the fourth an "odd inning, to say the least."
"Check-swing double by Scott the other way and with two outs and the tie score, a pop up that looks at the time seemingly harmless," Farrell said. "Looked like Mike just overran it a little bit, didn't get a good read on it and the ball ends up staying fair for two runs and the difference in the game tonight."
Tampa Bay's Matt Moore pitched six strong innings to remain unbeaten and claim a share of the major league lead in victories.
Moore (7-0) yielded a double to Dustin Pedroia and a three-run homer to Ortiz in the first, then limited the struggling Red Sox to one hit over the next five innings.
Boston has lost six of seven, including three straight.
"We've seen the past couple years when we was in a funk, it's pretty much everybody," Ortiz said. "It's like when we're playing well, everybody is performing well at the same time. Kind of strange. If you look right now, it's pretty much everybody struggling (offensively). Hopefully we bounce back and good things happen."
Boston designated hitter David Ortiz, who homered, said after the game that he has been playing with a sore left oblique. Ortiz said the oblique problem has affected his swing, especially hitting to the opposite field.
"It wasn't bothering me that much (tonight), but I've still got it a little bit," Ortiz said. "I'm going to keep on playing with it. Hopefully it doesn't get any worse."
The Rays overcame an early deficit with the five-run fourth off Lackey (1-4), helping Tampa Bay extend its winning streak to a season-high six games.
Moore allowed three hits, walked two and struck out eight. The 23-year-old left-hander tied Washington's Jordan Zimmerman for the major league lead in victories, became the first Tampa Bay starter to begin a season 7-0 and tied a club record by winning his eighth straight decision dating to September.
Relievers Jake McGee, Josh Lueke and Joel Peralta got the Rays to the ninth, and closer Fernando Rodney struck out the side to finish the combined three-hitter and earn his seventh save.
Ortiz's homer was his fifth this season and 27th of his career at Tropicana Field, the most by any opposing player. The designated hitter's 67 RBIs at the Trop are second to Manny Ramirez's 72.
Moore settled after the home run to retire 12 in a row until Stephen Drew doubled off the right field wall with one out in the fifth for Boston's third hit.
Lackey, making his 299th career start and 300th major league appearance overall, allowed five runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out three in losing his third straight decision.
"I really thought I pitched better than what's going to show," Lackey said.
Despite not having a hit after the fifth inning, the Red Sox managed to put the potential tying runs on base in the seventh when Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury before Shane Victorino lined out to end the threat.
Notes: CF Desmond Jennings was back in Tampa Bay's lineup after sitting out three games with a sore groin. ... Boston RHP Andrew Bailey (right biceps strain) threw 25 pitches off a bullpen mound and will face hitters on Thursday. Farrell said a decision on whether the reliever will go on a short minor league rehab assignment or be activated from the 15-day disabled list will be made after Thursday's outing. ... Rays LHP David Price, who's been bothered by allergies since spring training, said part of the problem has been chemicals the team uses to wash laundry. In addition to having to deal with a rash on his neck and arms, his allergies have affected his vision at times. He was given some eye drops after undergoing a test for allergies on Tuesday. ... Victorino (ribs) said he feels physically fine and was in the starting lineup two days after crashing into the right field wall at Fenway Park. ... Boston C David Ross (concussion) will be re-examined in the next couple days.