ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Daisuke Matsuzaka was wretched again for the Red Sox on Wednesday night, getting knocked out of the game before he could get an out in the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Matsuzaka allowed five runs in what turned into a 13-3 loss for the Sox.
Now 1-6, Matsuzaka has allowed 20 earned runs on 24 hits and nine walks over his last 13⅓ innings. He has pitched fewer than four innings in four of his last six starts.
The righthander was asked whether he should remain in the rotation. After a long pause, Matsuzaka murmured an answer to interpreter Jeff Cutler.
“That’s a hard question to answer,” he said. “I still haven’t really taken in what happened today.”
It won’t be difficult to analyze. Matsuzaka gave up nine hits, two of them home runs by Jeff Keppinger and Carlos Pena in the fourth inning as his earned run average climbed to 7.68 this season. He lost a 3-1 lead.
“He threw the ball down the middle. They hit it hard, like they should,” manager Bobby Valentine said.
With two days off coming up, the Sox can skip Matsuzaka’s next start at the very least.
Alfredo Aceves followed Matsuzaka to the mound and gave up four runs before Daniel Bard allowed three more.
In all, six Sox pitchers gave up 15 hits and walked 10. It was the seventh time this season the Sox have allowed 13 or more runs. They needed 173 pitches to get through eight innings.
At 68-82, the Sox have their first losing season since the 1997 team finished 78-84.
The Sox averaged 91.8 victories over the previous 14 seasons with eight postseason appearances and two World Series titles.
The Yankees, counting this season, have 20 winning seasons in a row. That was the only streak longer than Boston’s.
The game actually started well for the Sox. Pedro Ciriaco singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the first inning. Ellsbury had another RBI single off Chris Archer in the third inning as the Sox built a 3-1 lead.
Once Matsuzaka put the Sox in a 5-3 hole, the game turned ugly. The Rays scored seven runs on four hits, six walks and two errors in the sixth inning.
The embarrassment included Desmond Jennings tripling in two runs and then scoring on an error when Aceves failed to back up third base.
B.J. Upton followed with a double. Aceves came out and this time handed the ball to Valentine as he left the mound. The righthander had refused the last time he pitched, on Sept. 12.
Bard was next and his season-long struggles continued. He walked the first two batters he saw to load the bases. Luke Scott had a sacrifice fly and Keppingeran RBI single.
When Bard walked Matt Joyce to load the bases, Andrew Miller came in and walked Pena and Molina to force in two runs.
“It was tough to look at,” Valentine said.
Bard has walked 71 in 90⅓ innings this season, counting his time with Triple A Pawtucket.
“He says he really wants to pitch,” Valentine said. “We’re trying to get him where he can have some kind of good feeling about this season at the end. It’s tough.”
Archer (1-3) went five innings for the win.
Aviles sits again
Mike Aviles was out of the lineup for the fourth consecutive game. With the Red Sox getting a long look at rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias, Aviles has had to sit despite solid play over the first five months of the season.
Iglesias has been somewhat helpful to the offense in recent games, reaching base twice and scoring two runs in the first two games of this series. Given his struggles at the plate, that represents progress. So Aviles sits.
“Pretty hard,” said Valentine. “Mike really wants to play and I understand that totally. Iggy’s gotten on a little roll, so I’d like to see if the roll can continue. It’s tough, though, really tough.”
Valentine was asked about the idea of using Aviles at third base.
“Not sure that’s fair to him,” said the manager. “He hasn’t taken a ground ball there all year.”
Aviles started one game at second base, last Friday in Toronto when Dustin Pedroia was on a brief paternity leave.
More to come?
Pawtucket lost, 10-3, to Reno in the Triple A National Championship Game Tuesday night, but the Red Sox, Valentine said, would wait until Friday before promoting any players from that team. Righthander Zach Stewart and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin are the leading candidates. Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur will join the major league coaching staff . . . Valentine is considering starting Ciriaco in center field Thursday night. The idea would be to test his versatility while giving Ellsbury a day off. Ciriaco played the final two innings in center Wednesday and has four innings out there this season.
A Quiroz appearance
Third-string catcher Guillermo Quiroz, obtained from Seattle Sept. 4, finally got in a game, catching the final two innings Wednesday. He struck out swinging to end the game. He is the 56th player used by the Sox this season, a team record . . . Ellsbury was 3 for 3 before coming out and is 18 of 45 with nine RBIs in his last 11 games.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.