Bullpen wastes Schilling's solid start
Gagne gives up game-tying homer, Snyder the game-winner
BALTIMORE -- Eric Gagne took the blame for the Red Sox's latest disheartening loss in a profanity-laced diatribe on Sunday."They brought me here to do a job, and I'm not doing it," Gagne said. "I've got to step up my game. It's ridiculous. These guys go out there and play eight great innings and I go out there and blow it. It's a shame." With one swing, Miguel Tejada sunk Gagne's season to a new low and set the stage for Baltimore to walk away from a sold-out Camden Yards with a dramatic 6-3 win in extra innings. Tejada smashed a 3-2 pitch into the left-center-field seats with Nick Markakis on first base, tying the game in the eighth inning and ruining a stellar start from Curt Schilling. Then, in the 10th inning, designated hitter Kevin Millar, a member of Boston's 2004 World Series championship team, blasted a three-run homer off Kyle Snyder to give the Orioles the series victory after Boston had won the last 11. Gagne had been called upon to hold a 3-1 lead, but for the second time in three games, he couldn't execute. In five games since coming to Boston before the trade deadline, he has allowed runs in four contests and has a 15.75 ERA. He couldn't pinpoint a cause for his ineffectiveness, but was quick to admit that there's a problem. "It's a bunch of everything," he said. "I'm not doing my job right now. I need to find my game. It's pretty simple." Before Gagne entered the game, Schilling had shut down the Orioles, throwing six innings and surrendering just five hits and a run, which was unearned. He didn't record a strikeout for just the fourth time in his illustrious career, but he put together an outstanding outing nonetheless. Yet when he exited, Boston only had a two-run lead despite notching 10 hits off Baltimore starter Steve Trachsel. Left fielder Manny Ramirez staked the Sox to a 2-1 lead in the third inning, when he drove in two runs with a double into the right-center-field gap, one of four doubles Trachsel surrendered. Ramirez's two RBIs gave him 789 in his career and moved him into sixth place on Boston's all-time RBI list. Shortstop Julio Lugo added an RBI double in the fourth inning, but after that, the Sox were unable to capitalize on their chances. The most glaring misstep came in the sixth inning, when right fielder Eric Hinske grounded into a double play with runners at first and third and Mike Lowell was forced to stay at third base. "We had some opportunities, and you certainly would like to spread out [the scoring]," manager Terry Francona said. "We still thought we were going to win, which makes it a little bit harder. We had some opportunities we didn't cash in on." Schilling allowed only seven Orioles to reach base, two on errors, and the five hits he surrendered were all singles.
ROUGH FIRST IMPRESSION
|Making his fifth appearance since joining the Red Sox on July 31, veteran reliever Eric Gagne has a 15.75 ERA. In Sunday's 6-3 loss to the Orioles, the veteran allowed a two-run homer to Miguel Tejada in the eighth inning.|
But Gagne's implosion all but doomed the Red Sox, and Millar's blast dropped Boston to 4-5 on its nine-game road trip."It's a long season, a marathon season," Snyder said. "We've got to come together. It's not one person's fault in this locker room. I think everybody in here is accountable. We take responsibility for ourselves, and there isn't a single person in here pointing fingers at anybody." Schilling had similar thoughts about the struggles of his fellow hurlers. "It happens -- this is the big leagues," Schilling said. "Sometimes it just snowballs a little bit. But [Gagne's] going to be an essential part of us winning a World Series, if that happens. So you take it for what it's worth, and he'll be right back out there next time, doing what he can do. You can't allow one or two outings to shape your mentality, [individually] or as a club. "His stuff looks good, but unfortunately, when you make mistakes in the seventh, eighth and ninth [innings], they get magnified. We're not giving him a lot of room to breathe, and either way, we're not putting people away like we can and have in the past. So there's a smaller margin for error." The loss seemed even more disconcerting because of the recent stellar play of the Yankees, who won on Sunday and are 23-8 since the All-Star break. When the Red Sox left for their three-city tour on Aug. 3, they held an eight-game lead in the American League East. Now, that lead is down to four games, their slimmest advantage since May 2. "[The Yankees are] playing a whole lot better than we are right now, it's that simple," Schilling. "They're winning, and we're not. But the answers are here in this room, and we're going to find them." Gagne may be the one to take the lead in the team's search for answers. "Whatever is wrong, I've got to change it," he said. "I cost us two ballgames. You can't do that. I feel like I'm letting everybody down."
Geremy Bass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.