Marlins 2, Red Sox 1

Red Sox drop one in the rain

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / June 19, 2009
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The bustle of pregame - figuring out rainout plans - gave way to the long wait. The Red Sox eventually got in an official game, one stopped two batters into the sixth inning. But they had to wait 2 hours 26 minutes for the result to be final.

With 12 outs still on the table, the Red Sox lost their chance at a sweep of the Marlins, falling, 2-1, in a rain-shortened game last night at Fenway Park. By the slimmest of margins, a Ronny Paulino solo home run to center field in the second inning off Jon Lester, the Sox had their five-game home winning streak snapped. While some were resigned to the result, others were not.

“There was nothing we were told or saw on the radar that suggested that we were going to be playing in any type of good conditions,’’ Mike Lowell said. “I think a lot of guys are [expletive] pissed right now, just from my experience with the Marlins and hurricanes, there’s open communication between both teams and the players’ union and all that, you can make exceptions for anything, but I’m just saying that what we saw on the radar was 100 percent chance of rain basically from 7:30 on.

“I’m frustrated and I think a lot of guys are frustrated.’’

While rain came down heavily before the game, it lightened enough that the tarp was removed about 40 minutes before the first pitch. But even that was delayed five minutes, until 7:15 p.m., because Lester wasn’t warmed up enough. The rain slackened, yielding to light drizzle for the duration of the five-plus innings. Then it started to pour again and, at 8:59, third base umpire and crew chief Jerry Crawford motioned that the game was being delayed. It never got started again.

“I think we were hoping there was a lot of hope,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Obviously, from where we’re sitting, we want to stay and play until whenever. We’re the home team, we’re not traveling. There’s a lot of reasons we want to play.’’

Francona said Crawford came over at approximately 10:30 p.m., and said the forecast wasn’t looking good. Crawford said he would call back at about 11:15.

“We got the call,’’ Francona said. “I don’t know if at that point, if you beg, does it help? Obviously, we would have liked to have stayed because we were losing.’’

That frustration had built since the Sox were unable to make anything of Marlins starter Ricky Nolasco, who came into the game with a 7.62 ERA.

While Lester was struggling through five innings of water-logged work, allowing two solo home runs, the Sox had yet to do anything other than a solo homer themselves. In fact, the Sox had just one hit against Nolasco. And they had just that single base runner, when Kevin Youkilis, who was mired in a 2-for-20 slump, drove one into the Monster seats in the first inning. That is, until David Ortiz in the fifth.

The Sox’ frustration was exemplified in a single punch thrown by Ortiz. Fortunately for all involved, the recipient of his ire was one of his bats.

The designated hitter popped up a pitch from Nolasco just beyond the infield, and threw his bat up and punched it with his fist. The bat flew about 10 feet, and he began running the bases. When second baseman Dan Uggla and third baseman Emilio Bonifacio bumped into each other in an attempt to catch the ball, Ortiz found himself safe at first as the the ball dropped. So, as the rain began pouring again, the Sox had just their second runner. But they couldn’t capitalize on the botched play.

The Sox were down by one run, courtesy of those two home runs off Lester. Though the pitcher hadn’t allowed a home run in his last three starts, his last coming on May 26, both Uggla (to the Monster seats) and Paulino unloaded against the lefty in the second. That got the Marlins on top after the Youkilis homer.

“I thought it was a difficult night,’’ Francona said of Lester. “Things were rushed. He was even a few minutes late getting ready just because it was difficult for him to get ready. I don’t think he commanded very well. Saying that, he left two pitches, one he tried to go in, one he tried to go away. They hit them out of the ballpark. Other than that, he found a way to still give us a chance to win.’’

Lester, who did not stay to speak with the media after the game, had thrown 54 pitches by the end of the second inning, and had thrown 105 after five. He came out - briefly - for the sixth inning.

After a Jorge Cantu single to open the inning, marking the eighth hit off Lester, and a 2-2 count to Uggla, Crawford signaled that the game would be delayed.

So on the night after the Sox had celebrated their 500th consecutive sellout, last night the park was full of empty seats, their owners scared away by weather forecasts. And by the time the game was called, the very few hardy souls of the announced 37,577 left were entirely tucked up under the overhangs waiting for a reprieve from the rain and a return to baseball.

They didn’t get the chance.

“It’s the worst thing in the world, but it is what it is,’’ Jason Bay said. “You get a game in. It was a realistic possibility. It’s tough. You wait as long as you could. Unfortunately it wasn’t us.’’

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