Pitching wins ballgames; that simple formula has not paid dividends in recent days for these Red Sox. Tavarez held Texas to two runs, only one of them earned, in 5 2/3 uneven innings, but he received little run support.
Boston managed just a fifth-inning RBI single by Youkilis against Kameron Loe, who rode a three-game winning streak into the contest, but carried a 6.02 ERA.
Loe allowed one run in six innings, mixing sinking, two-seam fastballs for strikes and inducing a pivotal fourth-inning double play against Eric Hinske, which killed a two-on, no-out rally.
Throughout the series, the Red Sox bats have been particularly vulnerable late in games. Sunday's loss extended their scoreless streak against Eric Gagne and the Rangers' bullpen to 11 innings.
David Ortiz, Boston's Mr. Clutch, struggled again in big situations, leaving two runs on after striking out in the seventh, then ending the game by popping out against Gagne.
"Those guys went out there and threw a lot of sinking fastballs," Tavarez said. "They got the ground-ball double plays. They kept the ball on the ground."
"I don't think they're anything other than other bullpens we've seen in the past," said third baseman Mike Lowell, who did not play after going 3-for-7 in the first two games of the series. "I just think they're executing their pitching and we're not scoring runs."
The Rangers scored their first run in the fourth on a pair of tough Red Sox errors. First, shortstop Alex Cora could not handle a hop in the hole behind second base, allowing Frank Catalanotto to reach. Then, with runners on first and second, Marlon Byrd hammered a ball to right center, which sailed through the webbing of J.D. Drew's outstretched glove as he reached over his shoulder at a full sprint.
Drew said the lines of communication between right field and center got crossed.
"I kind of took a peak at [center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury] to see where he was at and make sure we didn't have a collision," Drew said. "It just put me about a half a step off when I reached up to catch the ball."
In the next inning, for the second straight day, Rangers first baseman Brad Wilkerson gave his team an emphatic lift with an RBI double off the wall. This time, it was Manny Ramirez instead of Ellsbury who mishandled the initial bounce, with Frank Catalanotto scoring ahead of Alex Cora's errant relay.
That was all Texas needed in Sunday's game, another exhibit of Boston's hitting troubles.
"You go through cycles," Boston manager Terry Francona said, "where it seems like scoring runs is very difficult. You go through periods where we're whacking it all over the ballpark."
"I hope that side of it starts tomorrow."