BOSTON -- While the home runs were disturbing Saturday -- all five of them by the Red Sox -- the Rays' starting pitching, or lack thereof of late, seemed to be a bigger concern.
For the third consecutive day, the Rays did not get a quality start from one of their starters and lost their third straight game. On Saturday, the Red Sox mounted another offensive show and came away with a 13-5 win at Fenway Park with 38,024 watching.
Tampa Bay moved to 1-4 on its current 10-game road trip and 4-4 on the season.
Starting pitching is the foundation on which the Rays are built, so the results the past three days have run counter to the unit's many successes over the past several years. On Thursday afternoon in Detroit, Jeff Niemann lasted just five innings. On Friday, David Price made it through three. And on Saturday, Jeremy Hellickson went five.
Not going deeper into games translates to an overworked bullpen, which in turn can lead to late scoring by the opposition. The past two days, the Red Sox have scored 16 runs in the seventh and eighth innings. If you throw Thursday's game against the Tigers into the mix, the bullpen has surrendered 20 runs in three games in the seventh and eighth innings.
"We just have to do a better job," manager Joe Maddon said. "The bullpen is covering a lot of innings, too. We have to get our starters deep. That's been our method for success in the past. Get our starters deep into the game [and] then we turn it over to our bullpen in a match-up situation. But we haven't been able to do that."
Entering this series, the Red Sox had scored just 20 runs in the team's first six games. In two games against the Rays, they have scored 25.
Saturday's finish had a stark contrast to the beginning, when Tampa Bay was swinging the bats.
Carlos Pena had an RBI double off Boston starter Clay Buchholz in the first and Luke Scott added a three-run homer for a 4-0 Rays lead.
Boston didn't wait long to answer back. Jarrod Saltalamacchia crushed a two-run homer off Hellickson to deep center field in the second, cutting the lead to 4-2.
"He's strong," Hellickson said. "He barreled it up. It was a tough pitch, but they hit tough pitches, too."
Scott doubled home another run in the third. Dustin Pedroia then homered off Hellickson in the bottom half of the inning to make it 5-3.
In the fifth, Hellickson thought he had caught David Ortiz looking at strike three. Instead, the pitch got called ball three. Ortiz then connected on a cutter "that didn't cut" according to Hellickson. When the ball landed in Boston's bullpen, the game was tied at 5.
Normally not one to show his emotions, Hellickson was clearly upset about not getting the strike call.
"I did [think the pitch was a strike], but I'm not the umpire," Hellickson said.
Buchholz appeared to catch a second wind via the run support granted him by the Sox's offense.
"I thought we had good at-bats [against Buchholz]. I really liked it," Maddon said. "I tell you what was a big moment: when he was at 88 pitches after [five innings]. By the time he left the game [after seven innings], he was [at 104], so we only had  pitches for two innings in the latter part of the game. We were putting a lot of first pitches in play and he was getting some easy outs. Up to that point, we had a pretty good plan working against him."
Burke Badenhop took over for Hellickson and retired the Red Sox in order in the sixth before surrendering a leadoff homer to Mike Aviles in the seventh.
J.P. Howell relieved Badenhop, and the Red Sox loaded the bases against the left-hander. Cody Ross then doubled off the Green Monster to drive home two to give Boston an 8-5 lead.
Boston blew it open in the eighth, as Ortiz roped a three-run double into the left-field corner, and Ross capped the homer parade with a two-run blast over the Green Monster.
Buchholz, who made only 14 starts last year due to a stress fracture in his lower back, had not pitched in Fenway Park since June. Buchholz did not dwell on personal accomplishment, rather, he spoke of the team.
"I think if you ask any starters on this team, it's all about winning," Buchholz said. "You don't want to give up runs. You don't want to walk guys, but it's all in the end result that you're looking at. You want those W's."
While the starters have not been at their best the past three games, the Rays have been going up against the likes of the Tigers and Red Sox.
"We're facing some tough lineups, too," Hellickson said. "They're not going to swing at pitches that aren't in the zone. We're definitely going to have to do a better job of throwing strikes, but at the same time, you have to give those guys credit."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.