BOSTON -- What was Ryan Dempster's reward for a fifth straight quality start on Wednesday night at Fenway Park?
A 6-2 loss to the Rays that dropped his misleading record on the season to 4-8.
Every year, it seems there is a snake-bitten member of a pitching rotation who doesn't get as many wins as he deserves.
At this point of the season, nobody would dispute that Dempster is that man on the Red Sox. His team is 6-9 in his 15 starts.
"Yeah, I just wish we were winning more of the games that I'm starting," said Dempster. "That's all I care about -- that the day I pitch, we win. We're not winning those right now. I've just got to keep working hard, keep trying to make better pitches and get better every time out and give us a chance to win."
Without question, Dempster gave his team a chance to win in this one. Over six innings, Dempster allowed eight hits and three runs, walking two and striking out three.
When he exited, the Red Sox trailed just 3-2.
"Seemingly there's a guy on each staff that might pitch on the wrong day. That's probably the case with Ryan on a few occasions," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "That's something completely out of his control, and yet at the same time, we're in a position to win most every time he walks to the mound."
It was just the third time the Rays have beaten Boston in 12 tries this season.
"We have to beat these guys. You have to beat the people in front of you in the division, obviously," said Rays manager Joe Maddon. "We've done a pretty good job over the years; this year has been awkward. A lot of close losses late. And that's something we're not normally used to. We have to get better with that. Hopefully this is the kind of game that can push you in the right direction."
The normally dependable Craig Breslow had an off night for the Red Sox in the seventh, giving up a single to left by Desmond Jennings and then an RBI single off the wall in left by Evan Longoria. James Loney then hit a double, pushing runners to second and third.
Alex Wilson came on and tried to keep Boston within striking distance. But Wil Myers hammered his 0-2 pitch for a two-run double that made it a 6-2 game.
"The seventh inning was probably the pivotal point," Farrell said. "We were in a one-run ballgame, and particularly the 0-2 base hit to Myers, that gave them enough of a spread to keep us in check."
All of the runs in the inning were charged to Breslow, who recorded two outs while allowing three hits.
Dempster did get into some early trouble. Two batters in, Jennings unloaded for a solo homer to left. Ben Zobrist and Longoria followed with singles, setting up a sacrifice fly by Loney that made it 2-0.
"Yeah, just made a mistake to Jennings that he hit for the home run," said Dempster. "They hit a couple of balls that fell in, and that's the way it goes sometimes."
The Red Sox got a run back in the second. David Ortiz led off with a double and moved to third on a fielder's choice. With two outs, Jonny Gomes belted one off the glove of a diving Longoria for an RBI single.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia sparked Boston with a two-out double in the fourth. Gomes again ripped one off the glove of Longoria, this time a line drive, to tie the game at 2.
From there, the Boston bats went quiet.
Zobrist put the Rays back in the lead with a two-out RBI single up the middle in the fifth.
If not for the seventh, it would have been a tight game. Instead, it ended up as another tough-luck loss for Dempster.
"Yeah, a guy that's going to come in, we're hopeful of 190, 200 innings," said Farrell. "With the exception of that three-start stretch we've talked about a couple of times, he's going to throw the ball over the plate, he's going to make the opposition beat us and he's been a source of dependability for us."