The Boston Red Sox fell short against the Tampa Bay Rays in a 9-7 loss to start a two-game series at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

Boston did not get off to a good start in the opener, particularly on the mound. Tanner Houck got the ball after throwing the ball well over his last two outings, surrendering just two earned runs over 10 innings with 11 strikeouts.

Houck hit leadoff hitter Jonathan Aranda with a breaking ball after getting ahead 0-2. From there, the Rays scored three runs in the first inning as the first six batters reached before an out was recorded.

Tampa Bay tallied four more runs in the third inning, including a two-run home run from René Pinto. Houck’s night came to an end after three frames with 10 hits and seven earned runs allowed, which were the most let up by Houck this season.

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“Command was off,” Alex Cora told reporters, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “The slider wasn’t great. A lot of pitches in the middle of the zone. If you look at the swings, they were over the heart of the plate.”

Houck took accountability for his struggles after back-to-back solid outings. Specifically, the 27-year-old noted that leaving his breaking ball in the strike zone led to a tough outing.

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“Terrible,” Houck said, as seen on NESN’s postgame coverage. “Slider wasn’t very good. I was leaving it up. That’s one of my main two pitches. I didn’t execute it as well as I should have. I take full responsibility in that.”

The right-hander did feel that most of the issues on the mound were mechanical and feels that those corrections are an ongoing process of his career.

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“I’ve got some ideas in my head of what I’m doing wrong,” Houck explained. “Personally and mechanically, I’m rushing on the mound a little too quick. Separating my hands definitely too late, causing some inconsistencies with my release point out front. With that said, it’s something I’ve battled with my whole life and my whole career. Forever an ongoing thing when things are going wrong to make adjustments. Just didn’t do that tonight.”

Houck gets the ball in the final game of the regular season in Baltimore on Sunday afternoon against the Orioles to close out the 2023 campaign.

“(There’s a) lot of learning lessons in it,” Houck added. “That’s what failure does. I’ve got one more after this. Come back, bounce back and finish the year on a high note.”

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Here are more notes from Tuesday’s Rays-Red Sox game:

— The Red Sox moved to 22-25 against the American League East in 2023.

— Cora added that Reese McGuire would be available tomorrow after exiting Tuesday’s game with an aggravated left thumb injury.

— The Red Sox moved to 68-29 when scoring four or more runs in a game this season.

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— Brennan Bernardino delivered his fourth straight scoreless outing with a shutout inning of work out of the bullpen.

— The Red Sox play their final home game of the season against the Rays on Wednesday night. First pitch is scheduled for 6:10 p.m. ET, and you can watch the game, plus an hour of pregame coverage, on NESN.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images