Sox are up and down
Green throwing errors in 9th lead to loss in the 11th
The ball entered Nick Green’s glove, the fleet Rajai Davis heading toward first base. As Green set to throw, it looked like trouble. Green, the formerly shaky shortstop turned reliable gloveman, already had an error in the inning, his throw into the dugout allowing Tommy Everidge to score and Mark Ellis to reach second after an infield hit.
But it was that second throw, which got away from Kevin Youkilis at first, that caused the most damage. It allowed Ellis to score, tying the game and wiping the slate clean. Gone was Clay Buchholz’s win, three hits from J.D. Drew were rendered nearly meaningless, and another blown save was added to Jonathan Papelbon’s portfolio.
“I would like another ground ball, but neither one of those was easy,’’ Green said. “They aren’t routine. I didn’t physically mess them up. I mean I did, but the one play was mental. I don’t throw it, the guy doesn’t go to second, we get out of the inning. That’s something I have to learn . . . learn from it, not make the play next time.’’
Green also threw away a win in Seattle. Ramon Ramirez was on the mound, the throw went up-and-away, and the Sox went down.
It happened twice last night, the bazooka arm firing away and off the mark, and the Red Sox giving up a three-run ninth-inning lead and eventually the game. The A’s, who totaled 21 hits on the night, scored two more in the 11th, and the Sox went down, 9-8, in front of a dispirited and shell-shocked 38,084 at Fenway Park.
“It seems like a long time ago,’’ said manager Terry Francona, speaking more than four hours after the game began. “We got to the ninth with Pap and a lot of things had happened to get there, but we feel pretty good about the game when that happens. I thought Pap’s stuff tonight was explosive.’’
Just not enough, especially when you begin the ninth inning with a three-run lead and the first batter walks.
That was how it started, with Jack Cust heading to first on a free pass. Two outs later, everything came apart. That wasn’t it, though, although the score was tied and the game was heading into extra innings. The A’s needed a bit more help from the heretofore dynamite Sox bullpen, which allowed its first runs since the All-Star break - a whopping seven of them.
“It’s tough,’’ Papelbon said. “What are you going to do? It’s just the way I look at it. Things like that happen. It is what it is. You’ve got to move on and come back tomorrow ready to pitch.
“Especially when I had a three-run lead like that, walking the leadoff hitter regardless of who’s up there is, for me, not what I’m trying to do pretty much.’’
Neither was what transpired in the 11th, although the inning started well for Manny Delcarmen.
An over-the-railing grab into the visiting dugout by Mike Lowell. A scrambling stop by Dustin Pedroia. Those plays produced two outs in the 11th. But the final out proved harder. Ellis doubled to left and the pesky Davis had an RBI single to right. Then came an insurance run delivered by Adam Kennedy, with his fifth hit last night, and 12th (in 25 at-bats) against the Sox this season. That run was, in the end, necessary, too.
The teams had been playing long enough that the scoreboard in left had been wiped clean. All that remained was a “2,’’ in the first-inning slot next to Oakland. The Sox got one back, getting as close as 90 feet with George Kottaras on third and Pedroia at the plate. But Pedroia flied to left, and the game was over.
The day had been joyous at the start, as Jim Rice’s No. 14 took its place on the facade in right field. It turned sour in the ninth, though, as hit after hit and run after run came in. It erased a rocky-yet-effective start from Buchholz in his first game at Fenway Park in nearly a year. Though Buchholz lasted only 5 2/3 innings, and gave up nine hits, he only surrendered two runs. He left in line for the win, with the suddenly swinging offense giving him five third-inning runs, plus a tack-on run in the sixth, another in the eighth.
“On a normal night we’re sitting here saying the kid really battled and to his credit he got himself a win,’’ Francona said. “The game got away from us late.’’
Though it could have ended earlier, if not for another stellar defensive play.
With Delcarmen allowing Nomar Garciaparra an easy steal of third in the 10th - just as Papelbon did with Ellis in the ninth - it made the diving catch by Jason Bay all the more crucial. Flat on his stomach, Bay snared the ball, perhaps atoning for getting thrown out at the plate with no outs in the eighth. More important, Bay’s grab was the final out of the inning, and got the Sox to the bottom of the 10th still tied.
It wouldn’t last.
“They made things happen,’’ Green said. “Saw [them] late in the game stealing bases, getting themselves into scoring position. Once you get into scoring position it only takes a single to score. They swung the bats pretty good today.’’
Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.