ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) _ The Tampa Bay Rays are slipping out
of playoff contention and tempers are getting a little short.

Jacoby Ellsbury homered and drove in three runs, Aaron Cook
stopped his five-game losing streak and the Boston Red Sox beat the
sliding Rays 5-2 on Monday night.

Tampa Bay, coming off a 1-5 road trip to Baltimore and New York,
fell 51/2 games behind the AL East-leading Yankees. The Rays started
play four games back of the Orioles _ who were at Seattle later
Monday night _ for the second AL wild-card spot.

“We’re going to have to find a way to bounce out of it,” said
Tampa Bay center fielder B.J. Upton, who had three of the team’s
six hits.

The Rays have scored just 21 runs over the last seven games.

“This has been ongoing. … This is a seasonal misadventure,”
manager Joe Maddon said of his club’s struggling offense. “We’ve
been able to remain solvent because our pitching has been so

Tampa Bay leads the AL with a 3.27 ERA. The last five AL teams
to finish a season with an ERA as low as the Rays’ current figure
all advanced to the World Series.

Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb and catcher Jose Molina got into
a heated discussion in the dugout after the top of the sixth when
Boston took a 2-1 advantage. There was a wild pitch and passed ball
during the inning.

“We’re both really into that game, and we needed to win that
game,” Cobb said. “I honestly don’t really know what the argument
was about, still. We’ll work things out. We’ll talk about it
tomorrow, or whatever, and leave it behind us.”

Molina declined to comment as he was leaving the clubhouse.

“I’m not unhappy,” Maddon said. “That’s overblown sometimes.
That can actually be a good thing. It’s fine right now. We
discussed everything. It’s all good.”

Ellsbury hit a two-run homer in the sixth and added an RBI
single during a three-run seventh for the Red Sox, who were
eliminated from playoff contention Sunday. Cook (4-10) allowed one
run and five hits over six innings in his first win since Aug. 6.

Rays slugger Evan Longoria was out of the starting lineup
because of what Maddon called heavy legs. Maddon expects the third
baseman, who missed 85 games earlier this season due to a partially
torn left hamstring, to be back in the lineup Tuesday.

Cobb (9-9) allowed one baserunner _ a two-out walk in the second
to Jarrod Saltalamacchia _ through five innings. The right-hander
made a nice defensive play to end the second, grabbing a hard
grounder by Ryan Lavarnway and throwing the catcher out at first.

Jose Iglesias was hit by Cobb’s pitch with one out in the sixth
and scored on Boston’s first hit of the game, a two-out, two-run
homer by Ellsbury that put the Red Sox ahead 2-1.

“For five innings it looked like we didn’t have any gas in our
tank, and then Iggy ignited us a little bit,” Red Sox manager
Bobby Valentine said. “And Ells took a lot of time in between
pitches and hit a 3-1 pitch, and he gave us the lead.”

Cobb was pulled after James Loney singled and Saltalamacchia
walked to start the seventh. Boston loaded the bases with no outs
when Lavarnway reached against Burke Badenhop after shortstop Ben
Zobrist misplayed a grounder for an error.

After pinch-hitter Mauro Gomez hit a two-run single off J.P.
Howell, Ellsbury made it 5-1 with a run-scoring single against the
Tampa Bay left-hander.

“We played really well tonight, and it’s nice to shake hands
after a game,” Cook said.

Boston is 14-30 since Aug. 1.

Cobb, who had won five consecutive decisions, gave up four runs
and two hits in six-plus innings.

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead in the fifth when Luke Scott scored
from third on Ryan Roberts’ sacrifice bunt. Zobrist had an RBI
grounder in the ninth.

NOTES: The announced attendance was just 11,722. … Ellsbury
has seven RBIs over his last nine games. … Tampa Bay OF Sam Fuld,
who left Sunday’s game with a strained right hamstring, is expected
to be out several more days.

(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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