Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays game preview

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — On a night when John Farrell needed to take it easy on his bullpen, he needed an inning from five different relievers, complicating the team’s pitching woes in a 13-7 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

"We’ve been going to that bullpen so extensively, we needed to get some innings," Farrell said after starter Eduardo Rodriguez lasted only 2 2/3 innings, surrendering nine earned runs on 11 hits. "It was disappointing."

Farrell called a team meeting after the game — Boston has dropped six of eight games and allowed at least six runs in six straight — to find an instance of a Red Sox starter giving up more than 10 hits in less than three innings, you only need to go back to Friday, when David Price did just that.

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"The bottom line is (Rodriguez) is capable of more, we’re capable of more," Farrell said. "We need to get better, and we had a chance to share that after the game. To continue to fall behind as much as we are late, we’re more talented than that. We can’t continue to expect our offense to climb out of holes as we’ve been. We have to set the tone from the mound, more than we are."

There was an urgency to Farrell’s frustration — Boston is still 41-35, but since May 26, they’re 12-18 after a 29-17 start. What’s worse, even in low-leverage situations with the game out of hand, his best relievers struggled Monday — Koji Uehara and Craig Kimbrel each needed 26 pitches for a single inning, and Junichi Tazawa needed 17 for his inning, so pitchers who would normally be available the next night are now questionable if Boston needs a long night from its bullpen again Tuesday.

Tuesday starter Rick Porcello (8-2, 3.93 ERA) needs a quality start to help mend an overworked bullpen. The Rays, who will throw RHP Chris Archer (4-10, 4.70 ERA), have won three of four games against Boston and will try to build on the momentum of ending an 11-game losing streak on Monday.

The Rays hadn’t scored more than six runs at any point in that 11-game skid, but Monday’s outburst — matching a season high with 13 runs and resetting the high with 18 hits — will give them confidence as they labor to get back to .500 baseball with the All-Star break fast approaching.

"A lot of questions have to be answered when you’re not playing well, and I think they’ve handled it pretty admirably given what we’ve gone through," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "We saw tonight that sometimes it takes that type of performance to break out of a funk."

There might be a greater immediacy in the Red Sox clubhouse, where a strong start is slipping away as they try to keep close to division-leading Baltimore. The Red Sox could help their pitching by trading for an upgrade in the next month, but Farrell doesn’t know that will happen.

"I have to remain focused on the guys internally — to say that someone else is going to walk through that door, I’m not banking on it," Farrell said. "In this moment, I don’t have an answer for you."