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BLUE JAYS 5, RED SOX 2

Red Sox are left to wonder

They squander opportunities in loss to Halladay and Jays

Mike Timlin stood before his locker yesterday evening, his son at his side, devastation the mood of the hour. Timlin, like Matt Clement, was crestfallen to learn he was not named to the American League All-Star team.

In Clement's case, the lack of an All-Star appointment was rather stunning. In Timlin's case, it was far less of a surprise, the evidence why on display yesterday during the ninth inning of Boston's 5-2 loss to a Toronto team that has taken eight of 11 against the Red Sox this year and thankfully, for Sox fans, will not show up on the schedule again until September.

Timlin entered in relief of Alan Embree with two outs and two aboard in the ninth, attempting to keep the Sox within 3-1. But Reed Johnson -- who else? -- came up and pounded a two-run triple off the Wall just to the left of the 379-foot sign. That doubled the Blue Jays' lead and improved Johnson's RBI total in his last six games against the Sox to 14.

Timlin's ERA (1.57) remains nothing shy of stellar, but a true measure of a reliever is how many runners he inherits and how many of those runners cross home plate. Including the two yesterday, Timlin has allowed 11 of 18, or 61 percent, of the runners he's inherited to score.

''I've been giving up everybody else's runs besides mine," said the 39-year-old righthander. ''I just can't do that. Our job is to stop the runners on base then. When you don't do that you aren't doing your job. And I haven't been doing my job."

That may or may not have cost the Sox the game yesterday. They scored only once in the ninth, but they did stage a near-comeback against closer Miguel Batista. With one out in the club's last at-bat, Trot Nixon walked, Jason Varitek singled, and John Olerud singled, knocking in Nixon to close the gap to 5-2. Bill Mueller then worked Batista for one of the better at-bats this season, finally hammering Batista's ninth offering to center for a single that loaded the bases.

But Mark Bellhorn -- who fanned in each of his three previous at-bats -- followed by popping up the first pitch he saw to second base, which got him booed for the second time in as many at-bats. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons replaced his closer, Batista, with lefty Scott Schoeneweis, who got Johnny Damon to pop out and leave the bases loaded.

And that, really, was the theme of the day yesterday.

In the first inning, David Ortiz's RBI single gave the Sox runners on first and third with one out. Manny Ramírez then popped to second, and Nixon bounced into a 4-6-3 double play.

In the fifth, Varitek reached on an error and Olerud walked with no outs. But Mueller flied to shallow center, Bellhorn struck out looking, and Damon grounded out. Again, two men left on base.

In the sixth, Edgar Renteria led off with a single. Ortiz followed with another base hit, and Ramírez walked, loading the bases. But Nixon lined to center, and Vernon Wells wiped out Renteria with a one-hop throw to the plate. Varitek then flied to left to end the inning.

Renteria, on the play at the plate, attempted to slide through catcher Gregg Zaun's legs because Zaun was standing between the plate and the baseline, completely obstructing Renteria's path. The Sox shortstop never got his foot to the plate, as he was stopped short by Zaun.

Replays showed that Wells's throw hopped somewhat slowly to Zaun. Had Renteria bowled over Zaun, he might well have succeeded.

''I wanted to hit him, but I don't have the weight, I'm too skinny," said Renteria, who is listed at 200 pounds and has a chiseled physique.

Asked if he's ever barreled into a catcher, Renteria said, ''Never. I know they have all the equipment. They can put you out for the season."

Roy Halladay was either lucky or good in pitching out of all these jams. He gave up three consecutive hits to begin his day, then retired 11 in a row. He didn't give up a hit to any of the next 16 batters, until Renteria's sixth-inning single.

''His movement on both sides of the plate, cutting, sinking, keeps you off of his pitches so effectively," said Sox manager Terry Francona. ''His ball moved so much today. He showed why he's, if not the best, one of the best in the game."

Bronson Arroyo, had a somewhat similar, if less effective day. The Red Sox starter struggled through a rough beginning -- three runs and five hits after two innings -- before reeling off six scoreless innings.

Arroyo, for the second time this season, said he thinks the opposing team was tipping his pitches. Frank Catalanotto was on second base when Aaron Hill doubled down the left-field line in the first, and following that at-bat Varitek visited the mound.

''It only took like three pitches [with a runner on second]," Arroyo said, ''and 'Tek said, 'They got [our signs] already.' "

In the second, Arroyo allowed a one-out single, then balked, advancing the runner.

''After they called the balk on me things got out of hand for a minute," said Arroyo, who gave up an RBI double to the next batter, Orlando Hudson, who later scored on Russ Adams's RBI single. ''That affected me a little bit psychologically."

Nothing, though, was affecting Halladay, who made it through eight innings in an economical 101 pitches.

''Every time we face him," Arroyo said, ''it seems like we have bases loaded with less than two outs and something happens, either he gets a double play or a big strikeout and a popup."

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