ST. PETERSBURG -- Whatever Clay Buchholz threw, the Rays had trouble hitting. The same couldn't be said for the Red Sox's bullpen.
Boston relievers surrendered seven runs over 1 1/3 innings as Buchholz's gem was quickly erased in a crushing 7-4 walk-off loss at Tropicana Field.
Junichi Tazawa surrendered one run in the eighth, but closer Andrew Bailey suffered his second blown save and suffered his first loss after allowing five runs on four hits while recording just one out.
"It's inexcusable," said Bailey, who saw his ERA jump from 3.09 to 6.75 in the blink of an eye. "There's no other way to describe it. I've got to get that job done and get out of the inning. [Buchholz] threw a heck of a game and obviously deserved the 'W,' and I let him down."
Tampa Bay used four singles and a walk in the ninth inning before B.J. Upton's three-run homer on Vicente Padilla's 2-1 offering cleared the center-field wall and sent Rays fans into a frenzy.
"I didn't get ahead of guys, couldn't put guys away, I just didn't pitch," Bailey said. "Just no excuse in the book that does anything to make a difference out there."
Though he had relievers warming up in the bullpen, manager Bobby Valentine elected to keep Bailey in the game, believing the righty could battle through and hold the baserunners at bay.
"First time he was in trouble, got to give him a chance to get out of it," Valentine said of Bailey, who was making just his 15th appearance of the season. "He's given up some hits. I wanted to see what he'd do."
It was just the latest loss, the 83rd overall and 16th in the last 22 games, in a forgettable season for the Red Sox. A visibly upset and contrite Valentine said all the losing isn't getting easier to take.
"No, I'm not numb," Valentine said. "It hurts just as bad."
The loss spoiled a solid outing by Buchholz, who was in line for the win after he threw seven scoreless innings and allowed just four hits.
"It happens. That's the way our season's been going," Buchholz said. "You've got two pretty good guys coming in those two innings, and it just didn't happen. It happens that way sometimes. Other times, like at the beginning of the season, where I gave up six or seven runs and come out with the win."
The Red Sox finished their road trip 4-3, including a 2-2 record against the Rays, but Boston did put a crimp in the postseason hopes of the division rival that knocked them out of the playoffs a year ago.
Buchholz breezed through the first three innings, allowing just two hits to go with his two strikeouts. Both of the doubles he allowed were a result of Pedro Ciriaco, who was making just his second career outfield start, misjudging two balls hit his way.
"It's so annoying to see him that good," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of Buchholz. "He had everything working. ... He was on top of his game. He was definitely as good as he can be tonight. He truly was."
Valentine decided to insert Jacoby Ellsbury in Ciriaco's place in the middle of the fourth inning. In between the frame, Ciriaco was speaking with first-base coach Alex Ochoa when Valentine came over and started laughing, appearing that there was no hard feelings about the plays.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Rays began to put together a threat when Desmond Jennings hit a single that was able to move Carlos Pena over to third. Buchholz buckled down though, forcing Upton to fly out to right to end the inning.
Boston finally got on the board first in the top of the sixth, which was led off by a Jose Iglesias single. After an Ellsbury strikeout and a Dustin Pedroia flyout, Cody Ross ripped a double into the left-center-field gap that easily scored the game's first run. Ryan Lavarnway followed with an RBI single, giving the Red Sox a two-run advantage.
The Red Sox nearly added more, loading the bases against Rays starter David Price, but Daniel Nava grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning.
Lavarnway hit a one-out double and then easily scored when Mauro Gomez tripled to right-center field.
But the bottom of the frame was when the Rays started their rally, beginning with a leadoff double from Jennings. An Upton flyout allowed Jennings to tag his way over to third, and a Ben Zobrist sacrifice fly cut the lead to three.
Iglesias hit a homer in the top of the ninth, the first of his young career, but Tampa Bay was able to rally in the bottom of the frame before being capped off with Upton's blast.
"I fell behind 2-0, swung at a pitch I didn't want to and he left one where I could hit it," Upton said. "It was not where I was looking. I don't know what I was thinking about swinging at it 2-0 in that situation."
Greg Zeck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.