Sox lose the handle late
BALTIMORE — The Red Sox had just erased a four-run deficit against the Orioles, tying it with a rally in the eighth, highlighted by Kevin Youkilis’s three-run home run, when the bullpen gates swung open for Daniel Bard.
Eager to help the Sox maintain the momentum, Bard relieved Tim Wakefield in the eighth and proceeded to scuffle, giving up hits to his first three batters and allowing the go-ahead run in a 5-4 loss at Camden Yards.
Among Bard’s miscues was crossing up catcher Jason Varitek by throwing a slider instead of a fastball that ended up getting past Varitek for a passed ball and moving the eventual winning run to third.
“It was my mistake, not his,’’ Bard said. “I didn’t see the fingers he put down. I saw ’em wrong. He put down the right thing, but I saw a breaking ball and threw the wrong pitch.
“I was probably moving a little too fast. I probably needed to take my breath between pitches. I was yanking balls. All three hits were really bad missed locations.’’
When the next pitch got past Varitek, Nick Markakis made a break for the plate on a runner’s fielder’s choice. He was called out when Varitek flipped the ball to Bard, who blocked the plate.
“I’m thinking strikeout and find a way to get the next guy out,’’ Bard said. “I made a terrible pitch on the next pitch to [Vladimir] Guerrero.’’
Guerrero drove it for an RBI single to center, scoring Derrek Lee from third (he’d moved up on Markakis’s dash) and allowing the Orioles to beat the Sox for the second night in a row. Bard assumed responsibility for the loss that dropped the Sox to 10-13 and his record to 0-3.
“Physically, I was very ready to go,’’ said Bard. “I just got ready as quick as I could. It took me a couple of minutes to relax, but it wasn’t quite enough.’’
Boston’s eighth-inning rally absolved starter Josh Beckett, who recorded his second no-decision in as many starts after allowing four runs on seven hits, including back-to-back homers by Luke Scott and Adam Jones in the fourth. Scott drew a hard glare from the fiery righthander as he rounded the bases after having flipped his bat on his mammoth shot that sailed 426 feet over the video scoreboard in right field.
When Jones followed with a homer to left that increased the lead to 3-0, Beckett became unhinged. He barked at home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth after getting Mark Reynolds on an inning-ending fly to left.
“Not my deal,’’ Beckett said, when asked about Scott’s bat flip. “Those things have a way of working themselves out.’’
When questions persisted about the fireworks in the fourth, Beckett shot back, “Is this TMZ? I thought we were talking about a baseball game. You want to know about bat flips and talking to umpires? I think we should just stick to the game.
“I thought we did a good job battling back and came up one run short.’’
After Jacoby Ellsbury (3 for 5) was stranded following his two-out double in the fifth, the Orioles came back and added a run on Brian Roberts’s sacrifice fly to right.
Beckett, who threw 125 pitches in his last outing against the Angels last Friday, was done after 111 pitches, the last of which was an 87-mile-per-hour changeup to fan Reynolds to end the sixth. Beckett’s counterpart, Jeremy Guthrie, also departed after six, turning it over to Jeremy Accardo after allowing no runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk.
After Accardo gave the Orioles a scoreless seventh, the Sox got their first run against Clay Rapada, who entered the game with no out and two runners aboard in the eighth.
Ellsbury led it off with a single to right, then went to second on Dustin Pedroia’s walk. Adrian Gonzalez greeted Rapada with a single to left that scored Ellsbury.
Youkilis, who had struck out and flied out twice in his previous at-bats, delivered the big blow when he took righthander Koji Uehara deep to left for a three-run homer to tie it. Uehara, who earned the win after blowing the save, stopped the bleeding when he retired three of the next four batters, allowing only a J.D. Drew walk.
“I thought I hit it and I looked up and saw him right there and thought, ‘Uh-oh,’ ’’ Youkilis said of his homer. “The way my luck’s been going these days, I’m just glad it went out. But that’s how it goes sometimes. Luckily, it went over. In the end, it didn’t matter because we lost the game.’’
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.