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Lester, Red Sox top Rays, retain first place

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Published:   |   Updated: July 24, 2013 at 06:12 AM

BOSTON - It was the little things that denied the Tampa Bay Rays a chance to move into first place Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

Little things that led to a pair of runs that led to Boston's 6-2 victory that snapped the Rays' six-game winning streak and dropped them 1 1/2 games behind the division leaders.

Little things like a bad throw to second in what became a double-steal that included a steal of home. Little things like a wild pitch that moved a runner from second to third, and he later scored on a sacrifice fly.

Manager Joe Maddon watched from the dugout and came to this conclusion:

“We just have to do a better job hitting their pitchers, that's what it comes down to.”

The Rays got their two runs on solo homers by Wil Myers and Evan Longoria.

It was a one-run game heading into the bottom of the eighth, when the Red Sox scored three times off Kyle Farnsworth to put the game out of reach.

The Rays lost for just the third time in 21 games and the fifth time in 26 games. They are 4-10 against Boston this year.

They were cooled off by Boston left-hander Jon Lester, who held them to seven hits and two runs in 6 innings. They were shut down by a bullpen that retired the last eight Rays to come to the plate.

Roberto Hernandez allowed three Red Sox runs in his five innings but lost for the 11th time this season. Maddon said Hernandez, whose run of quality starts ended at four, bent but didn't break.

“He did not pitch badly at all,” Maddon said. “He kept us in that game and gave us a solid chance to win.”

And maybe a better night by catcher Jose Molina could have made a difference.

It was a 1-1 game when Shane Victorino doubled to lead off the third inning. He moved to third on Daniel Nava's fly ball to right field. Hernandez then walked Dustin Pedroia.

With David Ortiz up, Pedroia broke for second and Molina threw to Yunel Escobar, but the throw bounced and Escobar couldn't make the catch.

Victorino scored to give the Red Sox a 2-1 lead.

Maddon thinks a better throw would have led to one of two outcomes: Escobar tags Pedroia for the second out and Victorino stays at third, or Escobar comes up throwing and gets Victorino at the plate.

Either way, the inning ends when Ortiz grounds out to second and the score is 1-1.

Didn't happen, though.

The Red Sox made it a 3-1 game in the fifth when Nava doubled, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sac fly by Pedroia.

“We have been playing pretty darn good,” Maddon said. “I'm not going to be negative or critical about our guys at all.”

The game got of hand during a sloppy eighth.

With the Rays trailing 3-2, Jamey Wright began the inning and retired the only batter he faced.

Farnsworth came on and allowed a double by Mike Napoli. Stephen Drew singled in one run, and Jose Iglesias bounced a ball between Longoria and Escobar that Escobar knocked down. Drew, who was on second after a steal, never stopped running and beat Escobar's throw to the plate.

The ball skipped past Molina, and Escobar was charged with an error to end his team record of 53 consecutive errorless games by a shortstop.

“We can't be an oil painting every night,” Maddon said.

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