A sellout Fourth of July crowd of 36,629 jammed Fenway Park to watch the first-place Red Sox flex their muscles en route to a 7-5 victory, sending the last-place Rays to the third 10-game losing streak in club history.
The Rays have now experienced six double-digit losing streaks in club history; the longest being 15 games, which took place during the 2002 season, from April 25 to May 10.
"We're trying to stop all the madness," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Our guys are trying so darn hard you can almost see them grinding away between the ears. The effort has been great. Everything's been good, we just haven't been winning. I think, for us, it's a perfect growth moment. If we take this and learn some lessons from this, it's going to help us a long time up the road."
Ty Wigginton couldn't put a finger on what exactly has been the Rays' problem during the streak.
"I guess as a whole, we went through a stupor, the days we don't hit we pitch good," Wigginton said. "And the days we hit good, we haven't pitched. We ran into some pitchers who are going through hot streaks, and that's part of it, too."
Coco Crisp tripled to lead off the Red Sox first and scored on Alex Cora's sacrifice bunt with no outs. But unlike many of Edwin Jackson's starts this season, he did not let a little turn into a lot. And despite J.D. Drew's two-out double, Jackson managed to end the first with just a 1-0 deficit.
Raul Casanova answered for the Rays with two outs in the bottom of the second with his fourth home run of the season, a solo shot off Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield that landed in the seats above the Green Monster in left field.
Jacoby Ellsbury's RBI double and Doug Mirabelli's two-run single in the fourth pushed the Red Sox's lead to 4-1.
The Red Sox added three more in the fifth on Drew's RBI double followed by Mike Lowell's two-run homer to take a 7-1 lead.
Jackson allowed seven runs on nine hits and a walk while striking out five in five innings to take his ninth loss of the season against one win. Meanwhile, Wakefield recorded his 16th career win against the Rays.
"Edwin Jackson threw the ball today as well as I've ever seen him," Maddon said. "Great tempo, great delivery, and he kept repeating it. They got some big hits against him, and I think once he gains some experience, he'll learn how to put hitters away with two strikes."
Jackson seemed to take little comfort in his manager's words.
"It's just that bittersweet feeling," Jackson said. "I went out there and made them do what I wanted them to do -- put the ball in play; I had one walk that was towards the end. I was aggressive, but it just goes back to not putting people away when I needed to."
The Rays finally chased Wakefield in the seventh with three consecutive singles to load the bases. Left-hander Javier Lopez was brought in to face Carl Crawford -- who tallied his 900th career hit earlier in the game -- and Crawford drove home two with a double. One out later, Carlos Pena singled to drive home two more to cut the Red Sox's lead to 7-5. But the tandem of Manny Delcarmen and Jonathan Papelbon got the final seven outs to preserve the win.
"A losing streak can tear you apart or it can bring you together," Maddon said. "You start doing the finger-pointing gig, you start making excuses, you start crying, then it goes this way."
Maddon offered a visual by spreading his hands apart.
"It's an implosion at that point," he said. "Otherwise, you can take it and let it bring you together and fight everybody that's on the periphery in a positive way. And that's what we've got to do. We're going to hang together and come out of this in a positive manner."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.