Rick Porcello's stellar outing against baseball's best team went one inning too long.
The Red Sox right-hander made it through seven scoreless innings with only 91 pitches vs. the Astros on Friday night, and that gave Alex Cora the confidence to leave him in for the eighth.
That turned out to be an unwise decision.
Red-hot Houston center fielder George Springer, who entered the game 9-for-18 with two home runs off Porcello in his career, drilled a two-run homer to give the Astros a 2-1 lead. The Red Sox went on to drop the first game of the series, 3-1.
Cora placed all of the blame for the loss on himself.
“That was a bad decision,” Cora told reporters. "That was a bad one from the get-go. That’s the best lineup in baseball. Every pitch is high-leverage. He did his job.
“We have the best player in baseball right now with a runner on second and no outs. That’s on me. That’s not on Rick. I just made a bad decision, put him in a bad spot and we paid the price.”
"I'm out there. It's on me," Porcello said. "He's got the confidence to leave me out there, I've got to do a better job I guess rewarding that confidence. It's 100 percent on me."
The Red Sox will look to even the series on Saturday night.
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FINAL SCORE: Tampa Bay Rays 8, Boston Red Sox 7
IN BRIEF: J.D. Martinez's first home run of the season was a bright spot, but the Red Sox pitching staff was not as they dropped Game 1 of their series vs. the Rays on Monday night. Boston used six different pitchers in the loss and none of them had an answer for Tampa Bay as they allowed a combined 16 hits and eight walks.
Backup catcher Kevin Plawecki had a nice night for the Red Sox with three hits and two RBI, and Jonathan Arauz collected his first three MLB hits and two RBI.
RED SOX RECORD: 6-10
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J.D. snaps the slump
Kiermaier robs Arauz
Arauz notches first MLB hit
Choi puts Rays ahead
Rays pile it on
vs. Rays, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m., NESN
vs. Rays, Wednesday, 7:30 p.m., NESN
Michael Chavis was really pulling for rookie rule 5 pick Jonathan Arauz to record his first hit on Monday night. So when the infielder ripped a Ryan Yarbrough offering to deep center field, Chavis thrust both arms over his head in celebration.
Just one problem: Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier.
Kiermaier raced onto the warning track and appeared to mistime his leap, but managed to hang in the air just long enough to corral the drive before tumbling to the dirt in front of the center field fence. Instead of his first big-league knock, the 22-year-old Panamanian simply had his first loud out, and Chavis couldn't hide his frustration on his teammate's behalf.
When he realized the ball had landed in Kiermaier's glove, Chavis dropped his hands and raised his middle finger in Kiermaier's direction before simply covering his face.
Not the first time the three-time Gold Glover has elicited that reaction, and undoubtedly not the last.