After climbing out of a three-run hole to the Orioles, the Sox wasted a chance to put some room between themselves and the Tampa Bay Rays, giving up three runs in the eight inning and falling to the Orioles, 7-5.
Daniel Bard and Jonathan Papelbon, the relief combination that the Sox have counted on all year, couldn't come through in the either inning. Bard gave up two hits. Papelbon, making just his third attempt multi-inning save gave up a single to load the bases and a bases-clearing double to Robert Andino that sealed the Sox's fate.
Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia provided much of the offense for the Sox. Gonzalez went 2 for 4 with a double and a two-run homer and three RBIs. Pedroia was 2 for 4 with a pair of doubles and another pair of runs scored.
But the Sox couldn't overcome their pitching struggles from the start.
Erik Bedard made his first start since Sept. 3. because of a sore left knee. He was also dealing with personal issues after reportedly being served papers in a child support case hours before taking the mound.
He gave up four runs (just one earned) in 2.2 innings but the biggest blow was the pitches. He wasn’t supposed to come near 100 pitches. He threw 76 (51 in the third innings alone).
The Sox put some room between themselves and the Tampa Bay Rays in the wild card race with the Rays losing 5-0 to the Yankees but their lead holds at two games.
Bottom of the eighth, Orioles 7, Red Sox 5: And suddenly the O's look like a team in control. Pedro Strop tossed a 1-2-3 inning against the bottom of the Sox order.
Top of the eighth, Orioles 7, Red Sox 5: After Daniel Bard gave ip a pair of singles, Terry Francona pushed his chips in and called for Jonathan Papelbon early. It was only the third time this season that Papelbon's come in for a multiple-inning save.
Papelbon struck out Chris Davis (looking) but gave up a looped to Nolan Reimold to load the bases -- Os third base coach Willie Randolph wisely held Matt Weiters up at third with two outs.
Robert Andino dealt the body blow, doubling to deep right (his third hit of the night). It cleared the bases and put the Os up 7-5.
Bottom of the seventh, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: The Sox are still hanging on to their one-run lead. Darnell McDonald's in right field now. Daniel Bard will take the mound for second inning, trying to bridge to Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth.
Top of the seventh, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: Daniel Bard tosses a 1-2-3 inning.
Bottom of the sixth, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: Aviles roped a double and was left stranded.
Meanwhile, the Rays are tanking in New York. They're down 5-0. Wade Davis was tagged for five runs in 4.2 innings. Curtis Granderson's 2 for 3 with four RBIs.
Not that anyone around these parts is cheering for the Yankees, but ...
Top of the sixth, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: Matt Albers tossed a clean sixth -- he hit a man -- but he tossed a clean sixth. It's his third straight scoreless appearance since he gave up three in a loss to the Rays last week.
Bottom of the fifth, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: Three up, three down for Reyes, who also had a pair of strikeouts.
Top of the fifth, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: The Os skillfully figured out a way to run themselves out of the inning. First, there was the strike-em-out, throw-em-out double play (Matt Weiters K'd, Vlad Guerrero was gunned down). Then Adam Jones erased his single to left by getting thrown out by Jarrod Saltalamacchia trying to swipe second. Two hits down the drain for the Os.
Bottom of the fourth, Red Sox 5, Orioles 4: Baltimore's pitching (a league worst 4.88 team ERA) is obviously brutal, but it's also a little puzzling. For instance, Buck Showalter got reliever Jo-Jo Reyes up in the third inning after Adrian Gonzalez took Rick VandenHurk deep. But then he sat him down.
What did VandenHurk do to start the inning? He walked Marco Scutaro on four pitches. Then Jarrod Saltalamacchia tagged him for a single.
Then Showalter got Reyes up again.
Then Mike Aviles singled, driving Marco Scutaro in and tying the game.
And after that -- seeing a three run lead go up in smoke in the span of eight batters -- Showalter goes with Reyes.
But Reyes didn't exactly strike fear in the heart of Jacoby Ellsbury, who shot a line drive back up the middle (crew chief Mike Winters had to duck out of the way) to load the bases.*
Dustin Pedroia struck out (likely too eager to take his cuts against a guy named Jo-Jo Reyes). But the Sox still grabbed the go-ahead run on an Orioles blunder in the form of a botched home-to-first double play that allowed Mike Aviles to score.
And the Sox still have four games left against this team.
*(It's Ellsbury's 200th hit and it's also the third time the Sox have had two players with 200 hits in the same season)
Top of the fourth, Orioles 4, Red Sox 3: Atchison hangs a zero,
keeping it at a one-run game.
Arbitrary but true -- this is the first time the Sox have scored first since Sept. 13 against the Blue Jays. They've been digging themselves into (but not necessarily out of ) a lot of holes lately, and they're 2-5 over that stretch.
For the season, the Sox are 57-19 when they score first, and 31-47 when they don't.
Bottom of the third, Orioles 4, Red Sox 3: They're about to turn this into another one of those Ravens-Patriots scores again. Dustin Pedroia started the inning with his second double of the night and Adrian Gonzalez followed up with a shot to the Monster seats to cut the lead to 1. The Orioles just got Jo-Jo Reyes up in the bullpen.
Top of the third, Orioles 4, Red Sox 1: After throwing 25 pitches through two innings, Erik Bedard just imploded.
It started with a pair solid knocks (Robert Andino's single and the Nick Markakis double that scored him). Then Josh Reddick misjudged a Vladimir Guerrero, taking a bad step in and then having to hop up for it only to have it bounce out of his glove allowing Markakis to score. (It's Reddick's fifth error of the year).
Bedard walked Matt Weiters and Adam Jones, then gave up a two-run single through the left side to Mark Reynolds before getting the hook.
He threw 51 pitches in that inning alone (76 on the night). Andino single-handedly blew up Bedard's pitch count with a 13-pitch at-bat. A couple days ago, Francona said Bedard wouldn't come close to 100 pitches in this outing. He didn't even toss that many before unraveling.
Scott Atchison came on to get an inning-ending fly ball.
Bottom of the second, Red Sox 1, Orioles 0: You can quit counting the number of "at 'em" balls the Sox have piled up this series. Jacoby Ellsbury just smashed a liner right at Os second baseman Robert Andino that started a 4-3 double-play that ending the inning.
Top of the second, Red Sox 1, Orioles 0: Nothing cooking for the Os but ground balls.
Bottom of the first, Red Sox 1, Orioles 0: Dustin Pedroia shot a double to the right field corner and Adrian Gonzalez followed up with one off the Monster to put the Sox ahead.
After Ric Flair popped into the Sox clubhouse, Pedroia joked the Sox wouldn't lose again. Or at least we think he was joking.
The Sox loaded the bases (Ortiz walked, Carl Crawford singled) but they were all left on after Nolan Reimold tracked down a Marco Scutaro fly ball at the warning track in front of the Monster.
Also this from Pete:
Top of the first, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Erik Bedard starts with a scoreless inning. He gave up a two-out single to Nick Markakis but Vlad Guerrero to ground out to end it.
Asked what he expected to see out of Bedard tonight, Terry Francona said he'd see how it goes. "We'l kind of have to play it by ear. See how he feels, see how he's throwing. See how the game's going. Add them all together and try to make good decisions."