by Steve Carney

The Tampa Bay Rays were one strike away from finishing Thursday's game with a win before it fell apart.

Fernando Rodney gave up a bases-clearing double to Will Middlebrooks with two outs in the top of the ninth inning, turning a 3-1 lead into a 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox.

The Rays closer gave up walks to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz to start the frame.  After Mike Napoli struck out, Daniel Nava also walked to load the bases.  Middlebrooks then launched a Rodney changeup into the gap to bring in all three runners.

Ryan Roberts got the scoring started in the bottom of the second inning, launching a solo home run into the seats in left-centerfield off Boston starter Felix Doubront (3-2).

Meanwhile, Cobb retired the first ten Red Sox hitters to start the game before Shane Victorino doubled with one out in the fourth inning and scored two batters later on a double by David Ortiz.

Cobb and Doubront went pitch for pitch until the bottom of the sixth, when James Loney walked to lead off the inning to end Doubront's night.  Pinch-hitter Matt Joyce grounded into a fielder's choice to erase Loney, but Jose Lobaton and Roberts each walked to load the bases, and Jennings and Luke Scott both delivered run-scoring singles to make it 3-1.

Cobb left with one out in the seventh, with Jake McGee finishing out the inning.  Joel Peralta threw a perfect eighth.

The Rays start a six-game road trip Friday in Baltimore with the first of three games against the Orioles.  Jeremy Hellickson (1-2, 5.25 ERA) will get the start against Jason Hammel (5-1, 4.93 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 with coverage starting on 620 WDAE at 6:00 with the Suncoast Hyundai Dealers Inside Pitch.