ST. PETERSBURG -- For the first time in two decades, the Red Sox are staring at a double-digit losing streak.
The fact is numbing for the defending World Series champions, who finished an exasperating weekend sweep at Tropicana Field with an 8-5 loss to the Rays on Sunday afternoon.
"Yeah, it's frustrating," said Dustin Pedroia. "We've got to find a way to play good. It seems like every situation you get in to do something good, you press to do something good. Maybe try to let the game come to you -- I don't know. Come out tomorrow and play hard."
The losing streak is 10 games, the longest by any Red Sox team since the 1994 squad suffered 11 straight defeats under manager Butch Hobson. The last-place Sox trail the surging Blue Jays by eight games in the American League East.
"We're certainly not in a good place," said manager John Farrell. "We haven't lost our competitive spirit or the way we continue to grind away inside of an inning, inside of a game, inside of a series."
Even when the Red Sox finally seemed to have some momentum after Jonny Gomes tied the game with a two-run, pinch-hit homer in the seventh, it all fell apart.
"He steps up," Farrell said of Gomes. "He's had good history against Peralta. He comes up with a big home run and injects the dugout with a lot of energy. Unfortunately, they come back right back and answer our two runs in the top half of the inning. A big hit, a big home run nonetheless."
The normally reliable Craig Breslow got belted around for five runs in the bottom of the seventh. The big hit was a three-run, pinch-hit homer by Sean Rodriguez that broke the tie.
"When you lose, it certainly tests the mettle of a team," said Breslow. "But I feel like guys are pulling for each other. Guys have the same commitment and desire to win. Right now, it's just not happening and I think we're all looking at why that is. Maybe it is just as simple as getting one under our belts and continue to go from there."
Later in the inning, after Yunel Escobar ripped a two-run double to make it 8-3, tempers flared.
Escobar took third and was credited with defensive indifference. The Red Sox didn't appreciate Escobar running with his team seemingly in command of the game, and there were words from the dugout. Escobar then motioned toward Boston's dugout and the benches cleared. Gomes pushed Escobar, and both players were ejected. Rodriguez was also ejected.
"We're down five in the seventh so it's somewhat of a gray area when you shut down the running game," said Farrell. "Yunel is going to do some things that might be unpredictable. That's what precipitated it."
Gomes thought Escobar was a bit over the top.
"Yeah, he can have the bag if he wants the bag," said Gomes. "I'm not concerned about the bag at all. He can take the bag all he wants but yell in my dugout and point in my dugout and take your helmet off and basically challenge our whole dugout? I'll have a problem with that."
"As far as I'm concerned, it's over," said Escobar.
The Red Sox were quick to admit that the current state of affairs didn't help their demeanor during the incident.
"I think our whole team took exception to the stolen base down five with two outs in the [seventh]," said David Ross. "He's in scoring position. But that's neither here nor there. I think we're just tired of getting beat. We're frustrated."
This tretch is nearly unfathomable for a team that didn't lose more than three in a row all of last season.
Boston will try to end the skid with a Memorial Day matinee in Atlanta.
"Yeah, I think we just need our pitchers to hit," quipped Gomes. "We'll get that tomorrow. We'll get some power there at the bottom and turn this thing around."
For the second straight day, the Red Sox jumped out first. A.J. Pierzynski led off the third with a single to left and Grady Sizemore moved him to third on a double. With one out, Brock Holt broke the scoreless tie with a sacrifice fly to right.
In his first start of the season, Boston righty Brandon Workman served up a game-tying homer to Evan Longoria to open the bottom of the fourth.
Wil Myers drew a one-out walk and Brandon Guyer kept the rally alive with a two-out single. That set up an RBI single for Logan Forsythe that put the Rays in front at 2-1.
Myers got another run home on a fielder's choice grounder in the fifth.
Workman gave up five hits and three runs over five innings, walking three and striking out three.
"Everything went really good then the last couple of innings I fell behind a few too many hitters, making pitches from behind in the count they got some base hits on and scored some runs off me," said Workman.
The Red Sox rallied in the seventh and it started in the most innocent fashion imaginable, as Pierzynski hit a chopper that eluded shortstop Escobar and rolled into left-center for what turned into a quirky double.
With one out, Gomes stepped up as a pinch-hitter for Jackie Bradley Jr. and mauled his game-tying, two-run shot to left against Joel Peralta. That made Gomes 6-for-13 lifetime against Peralta with four homers and seven RBIs.
For the Red Sox, the joy was short-lived.
"I think it's pretty clear," said Pedroia. "We're trying to win baseball games. We just haven't done that. The effort is there, the performance isn't. We've got to be better. It starts tomorrow."