THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

Beltre suffers a series of miscues

By Peter Abraham
Globe Staff / May 1, 2010

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BALTIMORE — In several ways, Adrian Beltre cost the Red Sox a victory against the Baltimore Orioles last night.

The third baseman made a series of mistakes, one that helped give Baltimore an unearned run in the fourth inning and another that could have cost the Red Sox a run in the seventh. In a game the Orioles won, 5-4, in 10 innings, both were crucial.

“I have been playing horrible,’’ said Beltre, the last player to dress in what was a quiet postgame clubhouse. “I’m not trying to be bad. I’m not trying to let everybody down. I’m just not playing the way I should be playing.’’

With two Baltimore runners on in the fourth inning, Ty Wigginton hit a bouncing ball to third base for what could have been a double play. But Beltre backed up on the second hop and missed it completely. A run scored as the ball rolled into left field.

It was his fifth error of the season, matching Baltimore’s Miguel Tejada and San Diego’s Chase Headley for the most in the majors by a third baseman.

The Red Sox signed Beltre to a one-year, $10 million contract in January in large part because of his defensive prowess. They have yet to see it.

“I know that and I’m not showing that right now. It’s kind of frustrating for me,’’ Beltre said. “I need to start playing better defensively because I’m making too many errors that I shouldn’t be.

“There are some easy balls that I should be getting to and I’m not making the play. It’s a six-month season, not three weeks. But I’m not playing the way I should be playing. I’m getting caught on in-between hops and putting myself in bad situations. I know I can play better than that.’’

Manager Terry Francona thinks it’s a case of Beltre adjusting to a new team.

“I think he’s made some errors that he won’t [make again],’’ Francona said. “Regardless of who you are, sometimes you’re trying too hard to impress. I think it’s from being conscientious, not from not caring.’’

Beltre had a good day at the plate, going 3 for 5 to raise his batting average to a team-best .338. But he committed a mental error that ended the fifth inning prematurely.

Beltre singled before Darnell McDonald walked with one out. With Marco Scutaro facing a 3-2 pitch from Baltimore starter David Hernandez, Beltre took off for third. Scutaro struck out and catcher Matt Wieters threw Beltre out to end the inning.

Beltre admitted that he thought there were two outs, so he was running.

“I wasn’t thinking,’’ he said.

Another mistake by Beltre could have cost the Red Sox at least one run in the seventh inning.

Beltre singled to start the inning before Jeremy Hermida grounded to shortstop. Beltre slid hard into Wigginton to try to break up the double play and succeeded as the ball slipped from the second baseman’s hands and bounced away.

But second-base umpire Chad Fairchild called Beltre for interference and Hermida also was out. Both Beltre and Francona argued the call, but replays showed that Beltre’s left arm tripped Wigginton as he slid.

“I still don’t know why he called it,’’ Beltre said.

“I know what I was doing and I didn’t put my hands up. I saw the replay and I still don’t see why he called it. My hands hit him but they never went up. My arm never hooked him.’’

Beltre contended that Wigginton wasn’t trying to throw the ball.

“That’s a big play at a big time of the game,’’ said Francona, who bickered with Fairchild for several minutes.

The Sox scored a run in the inning as McDonald walked ahead of singles by Scutaro and Dustin Pedroia. Had Hermida been on first base, it might have been a bigger inning.

“That’s the idea,’’ Francona said. “It was a big play.’’

Peter Abraham can be reached at pabraham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.

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