PAWTUCKET, R.I. - In front of a sell-out crowd of nearly 11,000, the Pawtucket Red Sox couldn't complete a comeback against the Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees in a 3-2 loss in the penultimate game of the season Sunday night at McCoy Stadium.
Pawtucket (66-72) snatched a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth, but the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders (72-65) capitalized on a dropped third strike and a flyball lost in the twilight sky in the fifth inning to win the third game of the four-game, home-and-home series. With their victory and losses by Columbus and Indianapolis, the RailRiders clinched a spot in the International League playoffs. Pawtucket did threaten in the eighth inning by placing a pair of runners aboard for the middle of the order, but the RailRiders hung on.
Rehabbing Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers (2-for-4, 2B) smoked a single up the middle in the first inning and yanked a fourth-inning double down the right-field line. In the eighth inning, Devers hustled down the first-base line and stayed out of a would-be double-play.
Pawtucket second baseman Brandon Phillips (2-for-4, R) and left fielder Aneury Tavarez (2-for-4, RBI) helped pilot the offense.
PawSox starter Josh A. Smith (L, 5-6) fanned eight without a walk in seven innings of three-run ball and continued his excellent second half of the season. Left-hander Josh Taylor, who was acquired in May from Arizona to complete the Deven Marrero trade, struck out three in two innings of one-hit, scoreless ball in his Triple-A debut.
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre starter Adonis Rosa lasted just 3.2 innings, but former first-round pick Justus Sheffield (W, 6-4) then fired 2.1 hitless innings with four strikeouts. From there, three relievers - including Raynel Espinal (S, 2) - secured the victory.
Pawtucket jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning when Tavarez and first baseman Mike Ohlman delivered consecutive RBI singles.
In the top of the fifth inning, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre center fielder Devyn Bolasky supplied an RBI single to cut the deficit in half and score right fielder Zack Zehner, who had reached on a dropped third strike. Then with two outs in the inning, No. 9 hitter Wilkin Castillo lofted a high flyball into right field, where the ball got lost in the twilight sky and turned into a two-run, go-ahead triple for the RailRiders, who vaulted ahead 3-2.
The PawSox now square off with Scranton in the series finale Monday at 1:35 p.m. at McCoy Stadium. Pawtucket right-hander Mike Shawaryn (3-1, 4.06) is slated to start. Radio coverage on WHJJ (920 AM and 104.7 FM) and throughout the PawSox Radio Network begins with the pre-game show at 1:05 p.m.
The PawSox conclude the season Monday (1:35 p.m.) at McCoy Stadium. Good tickets are available, and fans can visit the McCoy Stadium box office, which is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. through 5 p.m., and during all home games. Fans can also call (401) 724-7300 or log on to PawSox.com for tickets.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.