The Brewers swept the Red Sox in the opening series at Fenway Park via a shutout on Sunday. The loss marks the first time the Sox have dropped their first three home games since 1984.
Despite a terrific outing by Boston ace Jon Lester, the Red Sox lost 4-0 as the Boston batters could not push a run across the plate despite nine hits on the day to fall to 2-4 on the young season.
Brewers righthander Yovani Gallardo held the struggling Sox offense scoreless for 6-2/3 innings, allowing seven hits, no runs, no walks, to go along with three strikeouts.
“We’ve had a difficult time bunching some hits together,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said after the loss. “Scatter the nine hits that we got here today. We did create a couple of opportunities but just the ability to build an inning. They didn’t hurt themselves by issuing any base on balls. And seemingly in a number of hitters counts we got into, Gallado made a good pitch with a sinker, put a ball on the ground but it was more about not being able to bunch any hits together.”
The Red Sox hadn’t lost three games in a row at home since last May, and never lost four games in a row in all of 2013.
The Brewers extended their lead to 4-0 in the eighth inning when reliever Edward Mujica ran into difficulty as a member of the Red Sox again when he allowed a single to Aramis Ramirez that drove in Ryan Braun. Braun — a continual target of boos and catcalls throughout the weekend — singled off Lester, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by Sox backstop David Ross.
The Brew Crew made it 3-0 in the seventh when Khris Davis, who doubled to left field with one out in the inning, scored on a single by No. 9 batter Jeff Bianchi.
Milwaukee took the early lead after a couple of defensive miscues by the Red Sox, who were sloppy in the field for most of the day.
In the top of the second, red hot Jonathan Lucroy doubled off Lester and advanced to third when replacement third baseman Jonathan Herrera was unsure whether to field a bunt by Khris Davis or cover third allowing Lucroy to take the base. He scored on a single by Mark Reynolds that got away from fill in right fielder Daniel Nava for an error as Lucroy and Davis (unearned run) crossed the plate to give the Brewers a 2-0 lead.
“They’re in a nobody out, man at second base. In that instance I think Herrera saw the bunt maybe go back towards Jon but [Davis] lays down a perfect bunt and he’s holding his ground in the event of a play at third base,” Farrell said. “You tip your cap to the placement of the bunt.”
Farrell did not lay blame on Nava for his error on the two run single by Mark Reynolds.
“Sinking line drive, he’s gotta pull up short and the ball checks up on him, kicks off his leg for the extra bases that were allowed there,” Farrell said. “But [Nava’s] a little bit caught in between on the sinking line drive. I don’t necessarily think he got a bad jump on it, it’s just that good placement in front of him.”
Herrera was in the lineup for the second day in a row as Will Middlebrooks went on the 15-day DL with a strained right calf before Sunday’s game. Farrell said the rash of injuries has prevented the Red Sox from getting into an offensive rhythm in the early going.
“We have to make the most out of what we have at the time,” Farrell said. “Injuries are unpredictable. We haven’t been able to get into a rhythm with our normal starting lineup but that’s the game. We feel like we’ve got quality depth to replace guys. The next guy up’s got an opportunity in front of him to do a job and we’ve got to make the most of the situation at hand.”
In the bottom of the second, the Red Sox challenged a call on the field for the first time in club history. Jackie Bradley Jr. was called out at first base on ground ball second to first. John Farrell thought Bradley’s foot reached the bag before the throw but the replay — that took 1:38 to execute — proved otherwise and the out call stood.
Boston would end the second with runners at second and third after David Ross grounded to short to end the threat, leaving two more runners in scoring position (RISP) for Boston. For the day, the Sox were 1-for-7 with RISP a situation they have struggled to produce in five of the six games this season. The Brewer pitching did not allow a walk to anyone in the Red Sox lineup.
Lester retired 16 straight batters before Davis double in the seventh inning when the Brewers extended their lead. Lester lasted 7-1/3 innings before giving way to Mujica, allowing seven hits four runs, two earned runs, six strikeouts and one walk.
Lester was asked if he deserved a better outcome. “You really can’t control that,” he said. “Little bit of a grind early on but fell into a pretty good rhythm throughout the game. Tried to keep the guys as close as I could.”
The Red Sox have combined to score just one run behind Lester in his two starts.