Baltimore chops Red Sox
Bergesen silences Boston’s offense
Just a few hours after Red Sox manager Terry Francona offered several superlatives to describe Scott Atchison’s work out of the bullpen, Atchison surrendered a three-run homer to Ty Wigginton in the seventh inning to spark the Orioles to a 9-1 win at Fenway Park last night.
Atchison actually made a pretty good pitch on the righthanded-hitting Wigginton — outside and a little high — but the Baltimore first baseman stroked it to right and it landed a few rows past Pesky’s Pole.
The Sox wasted a decent performance from righthander Clay Buchholz (six innings, four hits, no earned runs). He was denied a chance to earn his 17th win when his defense let him down in the sixth.
Marco Scutaro muffed a Felix Pie pop up, erasing a 1-0 lead. It should have been the third out. Francona said, “we thought Buck goes another inning if we make that play.’’
The loss left Boston’s quest for 90 wins, a number that would be remarkable considering the team’s injuries, a long shot. The Sox would need to win seven of their final 11 games — with six of those coming against the Yankees.
Baltimore has made the quest difficult. The Sox are just 8-9 against the 61-90 Orioles this season. Baltimore is 29-17 since Buck Showalter left ESPN to take over the club Aug. 2.
Atchison wasn’t Boston’s only culprit last night. The offense could do little against starter Brad Bergesen (six innings, one run) and a bullpen that allowed just three hits in three innings. Jonathan Papelbon had one of his non-save meltdowns in the ninth, allowing four runs on five hits, a wild pitch, and Adrian Beltre made a throwing error.
Only about 5,000 were left to witness the horrid ninth on a night when the sellout streak was extended to 627 although there were many empty seats at the start of the game.
“I thought I threw the ball pretty well,’’ Papelbon said. “The outcome wasn’t good but look at the situation in the ballgame . . . I was in trying to get work and they were swinging the bats and ambushing first pitches. The whole outing kind of snowballed.’’
The closer also acknowledged, “You have a different mind-set than in a save appearance.’’
He sure did.
Atchison had pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings over his last five appearances prior to last night’s outing.
He had hoped to keep the good times going, but he knows all good things come to an end.
“It happens. I threw [Wigginton] a cutter away and he did a good job,’’ said Atchison. “He hit it in the right spot in this ballpark.’’
Off the bat, Atchison thought, “Honestly, in this ballpark off a righthanded bat, the ball usually slices foul. He must have done something with his swing . . . I have to keep it 1-1 right there.’’
Instead, he gave up a leadoff single to Cesar Izturis, and after a fielder’s choice to Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis singled to put runners on the corners. That’s when Wigginton struck.
The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the second when Jed Lowrie doubled to right and scored on a Daniel Nava single to left.
Buchholz didn’t have one clean inning, but still lowered his ERA to 2.39, second to Felix Hernandez (2.35) in the American League. It was his ninth start this season in which he hasn’t allowed an earned run. He walked a batter with two outs in the first. He allowed a leadoff double to Matt Wieters in the second before retiring the next three batters. He walked Roberts in the third but despite giving up a two-out single to Wigginton, he got Luke Scott to ground out to strand two. In the fourth, Buchholz allowed a two-out triple to Pie, but struck out Robert Andino for the third out. He walked Roberts with one out in the fifth, then buckled down to retire Markakis and Wigginton.
Buchholz struck out Scott and Wieters to start the sixth before Adam Jones singled off Beltre’s glove. Pie hit what appeared to be the inning-ending pop up to second, but the backpedaling Scutaro couldn’t snag it and the tying run scored. Buchholz stood off the mound for a moment with his hand on his chin, wondering how Scutaro could have missed it.
The Sox had runners on in the first, third, and fourth, but nothing came of it. Ryan Kalish, who walked in the fourth, was caught stealing on a pinpoint throw by Wieters.
The Sox made a bid to take the lead in the sixth. With two outs, Lowrie walked and Kalish struck a ground-rule double under the Jordan’s sign in the triangle. The uprising ended when Nava took a called third strike on a 2-and-2 pitch on the outside corner.