NEW YORK -- It was indeed a dirty dozen of hits that Curt Schilling allowed to the Yankees on Wednesday night. In fact, there was little that was clean about Schilling's outing, his roughest since being belted around by the Royals on Opening Day. Schilling and the Red Sox endured an 8-3 loss to the Yankees in the rubber match of this three-game series.
In a decidedly subpar performance, this was the most hits Schilling had allowed in a game since the Blue Jays got 13 hits off him on April 22, 2004.
"Just inconsistent on counts and pitches," said Schilling. "Consistently inconsistent when I couldn't afford to be, against a lineup where you've got to locate."
All in all, the night left the Red Sox with a strange feeling. It was the first time they lost a series since April 23-24, when they were swept in a two-game set at Fenway. Coming into this one, the Red Sox had gone 8-0-1 in their last nine series.
"Any time you lose a series, it's disappointing," said catcher Jason Varitek.
Fortunately for the Red Sox, they have built themselves some margin for error. Even after losing two out of three to their rivals, Boston still leads the American League East by 9 1/2 games.
"The season is way too long for us to sit back," Varitek said. "We're not sitting back. We continue to try and battle."
After laboring in his previous two starts, Schilling simply didn't have it in this one.
"Look at the numbers," he said. "In my last 12 innings, I've given up 24 baserunners."
The Yankees came out swinging. Johnny Damon led off the first with a double, then Derek Jeter ripped a single off the glove of second baseman Dustin Pedroia and into right field to make it 1-0. Schilling then left a meaty offering out over the middle of the plate for Hideki Matsui, who crushed it for a two-run homer to right.
"It was letter-high, middle of the plate," said Schilling. "It was supposed to be down and away."
The inning itself was a major downer for Schilling.
"It was 3-0 after three hitters," he said. "With Andy [Pettitte] throwing the way he's throwing, the last thing you want to do against either of these teams is put your team in a hole and force them to have to be aggressive. We were never in this game because I couldn't execute."
The Yankees hardly sat on their lead. Jeter again laced one off the glove of an infielder, this time third baseman Mike Lowell. That brought home Robinson Cano, who'd advanced to third on a throwing error by Julio Lugo. The run was unearned, which was significant. Schilling had gone a Major League-record 69 consecutive starts without allowing an unearned run.
Jorge Posada kept the pressure on Schilling with an RBI single in the third, and Doug Mientkiewicz bumped the lead to 6-0 in the fourth on a towering homer off the façade of the upper deck in right field.
Pettitte wasn't dominant, but he continually got outs when he needed them.
"I thought he was very aggressive with his fastball," said manager Terry Francona. "He always has the cutter and the breaking ball. I thought he threw his fastball in, and it opened up the rest of the plate."
After the Sox had been shut down over the first five innings, Lowell roped a double to right in the sixth to score Manny Ramirez, cutting the deficit to five runs. In the eighth, Coco Crisp smacked a solo homer, and Kevin Youkilis added an RBI single, extending his hitting streak to 16 games.
But the Red Sox had dug themselves way too large a hole by that point. And one man felt responsible.
"I don't think I threw any real good pitches that [were hits]," said Schilling. "I think most of the hits, I made mistakes, and they hammered them."
Schilling will spend the next few days searching for answers.
"Having a recipe means you know exactly what's going wrong," he said. "I can't pinpoint any one thing. You have to grind it out. I have to be ready to pitch again in five days. That's not going to change, so I have to figure it out in the next four."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.