Tejada’s knockout punch drops Red Sox in 10th
BALTIMORE — The ball flew off the bat, deep into the Charm City night. It was exactly what had given the Red Sox hope in the top of the eighth inning, but that hope went right back to the Orioles. Moments after J.D. Drew’s solo home run to center had put the Sox on top, Miguel Tejada tied it for the Orioles with a solo homer into the seats in left off Daniel Bard.
“I didn’t throw that pitch with conviction,’’ said Bard, after the Sox fell to the Orioles, 5-4, in 10 innings. “I’m really just trying to get it over and I need to know he’s a free-swinging fastball hitter. I put it right where he wants it. I didn’t prove I was going to throw anything off-speed in a fastball count.’’
John Lackey, who had a good performance following stellar starts by Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester, would not get the win. That was gone with Tejada’s blast.
“[Lackey] is out of the stretch 30 seconds into the game, and we’re not giving him much help,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “Again, I think it shows how we felt about his pitching when he was maybe 109 and he goes back out [for the seventh] and does a great job. Aware of runners, breaking ball was outstanding, competes. He’s in line for that win.’’
And then, he wasn’t.
“It’s tough coming out of the pen sometimes,’’ Bard said. “You throw one bad pitch and it’s a bad night. That was kind of the case tonight.’’
The Sox battled back from a first-inning, two-run deficit, and took the lead, 4-3, in the eighth on Drew’s second home run of the game. Then Bard threw a pitch, Tejada hit a homer, and the score was tied. That tie was broken also by Tejada, who singled up the middle for the winning run in the 10th off Manny Delcarmen on a breaking ball up.
It was the Orioles’ second win over the Red Sox. The Orioles stand 2-2 against the Sox — they are 3-16 against the rest of baseball.
The Orioles gave the Sox plenty of chances last night, walking 10 over the first nine innings. Just one of those walks turned into a run, with Darnell McDonald scoring on a Dustin Pedroia single after walking with two outs in the seventh. It was, in fact, the only Sox run not on a solo homer, with Pedroia adding an opposite field shot to Drew’s two.
“We certainly had opportunities,’’ Francona said. “We, for the most part, we forced them to throw strikes, and we didn’t capitalize on it. Ended up hurting our chances.’’
Misses abounded for the Sox, going 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. One missed chance came in the ninth, as Pedroia opened the inning with a walk. After he was erased on a fielder’s choice, Kevin Youkilis walked. Men were on first and second with one out.
Drew struck out swinging. David Ortiz struck out swinging.
“The last guy [Alfredo Simon] was throwing about 96, and he threw a 3-1 split to [Ortiz]. That’s going to make anybody get out front a little bit,’’ said Francona, who said Ortiz should again be in the lineup today. “It’s stating the obvious — we need him to hit. Doesn’t really matter during the game, during BP he slowed it down as good as I’ve seen him in a while. It was really encouraging. I know we’re looking to be encouraged. It’s harder when the game starts.’’
The Sox continue to look for Ortiz to build some momentum, any momentum, with the team facing three straight righthanded pitchers in Baltimore. That certainly didn’t happen last night with Ortiz going 0 for 4 with a walk and two strikeouts.
“I need to keep swinging,’’ Ortiz said. “I’m fine now, it’s not mechanical. I’m swinging at bad pitches; I’m taking good pitches. I don’t know what to tell you. Seeing the ball good and swinging at strikes, that’s what this game is about.’’
That, plus solid starting pitching. The Sox got that part. They just didn’t get the offense.
Coming off two consecutive stellar starts from their rotation, Lackey had indicated on Wednesday a desire to follow suit, to continue a run of impressive pitching that had helped build the Sox back up. The Orioles seemed just what Lackey and the Sox needed to keep up that pace.
Instead, the Sox reverted to their early losing ways, with botched plays and sloppy fielding. Much of that was produced by Adrian Beltre, who added an error and two poor baserunning plays to the Sox’ tally of mistakes.
Lackey allowed two runs in the first, with three straight hits to begin the game. He was saved by a strikeout-caught stealing to end the inning. He was also helped by a defensive play in the fourth. With a run in, the bases loaded, and no outs, Garrett Atkins hit the ball back to Lackey, who started the popular 1-2-3 double play. The Sox got out of the inning after Cesar Izturis flew out to center field.
“They came out really aggressive,’’ Lackey said. “They were swinging early and often on me. [Victor Martinez] and I were able to make some adjustments, and kind of settled in.’’
By the end, Lackey had spun a good outing, allowing three runs (two earned) through seven innings. But he didn’t get a win, the loss snapping a modest three-game winning streak and sending the Sox back below .500.
“When you’re trying to win as many games as possible, these games hurt,’’ Pedroia said. “We need to play better than that.’’