BOSTON -- A rare two-day break didn't provide the type of rejuvenation the Red Sox were desperately seeking. Instead, the early-season funk added yet another chapter in a 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays on a chilly Friday night at Fenway Park.
While the starting pitching and the spotty offense had been familiar culprits in recent days, this one came down to a bullpen malfunction.
Bobby Jenks came on in a tie game in the top of the seventh and promptly allowed a career-high four runs while equaling a career-worst four hits.
The big righty certainly wasn't searching for excuses when he spoke to the media after the game.
"I just flat-out stunk today," Jenks said. "I'm not going to make any excuses out there. It wasn't there. All I can say is I stunk. Going out there, I've got to do a better job of -- if I do give up runs -- holding it to a one- or two-run inning. I can't go out there and leave guys on with four guys already in. That's unacceptable for me."
The rough performance by Jenks offset a three-run rally by the Red Sox in the bottom of the eighth, which trimmed the deficit to a run. Jed Lowrie (pinch-hit infield single) and Marco Scutaro (two-run double) were the key contributors to that comeback attempt.
But in the end, it wasn't enough.
"You felt like we were going to put together some big hits, and you know, try to make a comeback," said left fielder Carl Crawford, who had another tough night, going 0-for-5 as his average slipped to .137.
Through 12 games, the Red Sox are 2-10 for the fourth time in club history and first since 1996.
When is it time to worry?
"I think we're there now," Jenks said. "We're in a tough division. To come back now, it's going to take all year long. We need to get on it now if we're going to get this thing turned around."
Though the Red Sox are in last place in the American League East, they are still within striking distance of first, five games back with 150 to go.
"It's not what we wanted -- that's for sure," said Clay Buchholz, who was shaky for the third consecutive start. "It's a little monotonous now saying that we're going to come out of it. But it's going to happen -- that's a given."
Dustin Pedroia (solo shot) and Kevin Youkilis (two-run blast) had staked Buchholz to a 3-0 lead with a burst of power in the bottom of the third.
"We got the 3-0 lead," said manager Terry Francona. "We didn't have a lot of hits, but we had two big ones and then we let it get away."
Much like Jenks, Buchholz took blame for the loss. The righty gave up three hits and three runs over five-plus innings. He matched a career high with five walks and struck out three.
"I felt like I should have been pinned with this loss today the way that went," said Buchholz, who got a no-decision. "If I just eliminate two walks, maybe that's two runs they don't score and we win the game. It's hard to look at it that way, but that's how I look at it."
Buchholz couldn't command, throwing just 46 of his 99 pitches for strikes. The bitter cold clearly could have influenced the subpar performance.
"That was one of the most uncomfortable outings I've ever been a part of," said Buchholz. "I'd throw a pitch for a strike and then try to throw the same pitch, and it would go in the complete opposite direction than I'm trying to go with it."
Early on, there was a sign that fortunes might be changing for Boston. It looked as if Adam Lind had belted a three-run homer around Pesky's Pole in the top of the first. But the umpires reviewed it and overturned the initial call.
"I thought it was a fight from the very beginning for him to command," Francona said of Buchholz. "We probably caught a break in the first inning, the ball hooking around the pole. But the whole time, he just couldn't settle in and throw enough strikes. When he did, for the most part, he was fine. Again, you walk people and then you get a big hit, and something that shouldn't be a big hit ends up driving in runs."
The Jays started their climb back in the fifth, helped by a two-run triple to right by Corey Patterson that slimmed Boston's lead to 3-2.
After that early power barrage, Boston's bats went quiet. Meanwhile, the Jays continued to chip away. Buchholz gave up a walk to Lind and a single to Aaron Hill to open the sixth, and the right-hander was removed in favor of Alfredo Aceves. The righty initially got the job done, getting J.P. Arencibia on a 5-4-3 double play. But Travis Snider followed with an RBI double to center to tie the game.
From there, things started to deteriorate for the Red Sox. Jenks started badly, opening the seventh by walking No. 9 hitter Jayson Nix.
"You can't start an inning off that way," said Jenks. "To go out there and get that first hitter is the most important thing you've got to do in that inning."
With one out, Jenks served up an RBI single off the Monster to Jose Bautista. Lind and Hill also produced RBI hits, further frustrating the Fenway faithful.
"You think that after a couple days off you'd feel free and be ready to go," Crawford said. "We came out playing pretty well -- we just couldn't pull it out at the end."
Jays manager John Farrell -- Boston's pitching coach the last four seasons -- was a winner in his return to Fenway.
"They're all good wins," Farrell said. "This was a tough win -- there's no doubt about it. We fully anticipate a very difficult series, but given the individual circumstances, yeah this was a good win for us to come from behind again. This isn't about me. This is about our team. This is a special place to come to, but it's even more special when you have a group of guys like that that go out and win."