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Tigers 6, Red Sox 5

Red Sox don’t have enough

Rally in ninth falls short against Tigers

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By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / July 31, 2010

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Mike Cameron pulled up a chair in front of his locker, and sat down heavily. His left leg was encased in ice, held by an ace bandage. His abdomen was covered in ice, giving him a slightly bloated look as he sat, looking expectantly at the media.

His voice was low as he answered questions. He had just stood at home plate, looking at a called third strike, a splitter on the 60th pitch thrown by Tigers closer Jose Valverde. He hadn’t expected the pitch, didn’t come through on it, stranding the tying run on second base, the winning run on first. And so, with Cameron caught looking for the final out, the Sox dropped last night’s game, 6-5, on the eve of the trading deadline.

“Just didn’t get it done,’’ Cameron said. “One of those rough days here, rough days in Fenway.’’

With the Sox two outs from a 6-1 loss, Valverde lost his command, walking Marco Scutaro, Jed Lowrie, and Kevin Youkilis. Up stepped David Ortiz, who blasted the third pitch he saw into the seats in the right-field corner, clearing the bases with the ninth grand slam of his career and the first since April 18, 2008, against Texas.

“I was thinking about going deep,’’ said Ortiz, who hit his team-high 22 home run. “That’s what I do.’’

There was little time for celebrating with the Sox still down by one run. After Victor Martinez struck out swinging, Adrian Beltre doubled to left field. Valverde intentionally walked pinch hitter J.D. Drew. That brought up Cameron, who already had a catchable ball tick off his glove in the first inning for a run, grounded into an inning-ending double play, and struck out twice swinging. He went down looking in the ninth.

“I definitely had a few opportunities,’’ he said. “That last one, [I] had a chance to try to make something happen. He threw a good pitch, made a good pitch on that one. So sad as it may seem, I guess I’ve got to chalk it up, tip my cap to him. Guess I’ll be the goat for today, if that’s the situation.’’

“That’s a pretty gutsy pitch. I’d be looking for a fastball, too,’’ said manager Terry Francona.

Francona added, “He’s been unbelievable, the amount of effort and time he’s putting into trying to stay out there. He’s doing everything in his power to help us win.’’

Cameron was hardly the only player to earn the goat title last night. Jon Lester gave up four runs over his six innings, including two home runs to Jhonny Peralta in the third baseman’s Detroit debut. Tim Wakefield gave up two runs in the eighth inning.

“It’s a big hole we dug,’’ Francona said. “That’s a lot to overcome.’’

Cameron was the most obvious villain, his limited mobility and limited reach making him all the easier to blame.

“Just grinding,’’ he said. “Just grinding. Trying to do the best I can. Trying to be as productive as I can. I understand that some days are going to be better than others.’’

Lester’s last start, for example, was one of the better days. Last night? One of the worst.

“Go from one start where I probably had the best stuff I’ve ever had in probably my life to nothing,’’ Lester said. “It’s one of those nights, turn the page, move on. Try to do better in five days.’’

Five days earlier, Lester had not allowed a hit until the sixth. Last night, Austin Jackson led off with a single. That was followed by an RBI double by Will Rhymes, with the ball hitting off Cameron’s glove and bouncing away. Peralta led off the second inning with a homer, and belted a two-run shot in the fifth.

Cameron said he thought he would get to the ball he missed, adding, “All I’m doing is everything I can give out there. Just off the edge of my glove. It didn’t feel real good. That’s the way it is. Some people understand. Some people don’t.’’

In all, Lester gave up 11 hits, seven coming in the first three innings.

“Terrible,’’ Lester said of his warm-up in the bullpen. “Physically I was fine. It was no rhythm, no balance, no execution. You name it, there wasn’t any of it tonight.’’

Still, with the benefit of a solo homer by Scutaro in the fifth, the Sox were down only three runs when Lester exited. Ramon Ramirez kept the Tigers from scoring, but Wakefield didn’t, with the knuckleballer allowing two runs, one on a wild pitch, the other on a ground out.

The Sox missed chances, stranding 12 and going 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position. One prime chance came in the seventh, with the Sox down, 4-1, when Eric Patterson led off the inning with a walk. But Patterson was caught stealing, a play that looked even bigger when Scutaro followed with a single.

In the end, it was all too much for the Sox.

Even with Youkilis knocking out his second starter of the week — literally — when he hit a bullet back at Armando Galarraga, the Sox couldn’t take advantage. Galarraga left in the fifth inning with a right ankle contusion one out shy of qualifying for the win. Youkilis also hit a ball off Dan Haren earlier in the week, catching the Angels starter on his right forearm.

So while the Tigers lost Galarraga, and had to use too much of their bullpen, the game ended up in the loss column for the Sox.

“A loss is a loss,’’ said Lester, who is 11-6. “It doesn’t matter. Obviously it’s later in the season and we’re trying to win ballgames and get back in this thing. But a loss is a loss. It doesn’t feel good, regardless of what time of season it is. Any time I take the ball, I don’t want to lose. It doesn’t matter what time of the year. They all don’t feel good.’’

Amalie Benjamin can be reached at abenjamin@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmalieBenjamin.

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