Sox frustrated by walk-off loss to Orioles
After sweeping Toronto, Boston loses three in Baltimore
BALTIMORE -- After a lost weekend in Camden Yards, capped by a 3-2 loss in 10 innings to the Orioles, the Red Sox knew better than to point to it still being early in the season. They play in the power-packed American League East, where they are now in fourth place and a season-high of seven games behind the Rays.
The Sox know that their overall quality of play and the end results need to change in short order, otherwise it could be a long summer.
"We're making it pretty tough on ourselves," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "These are tight games and we're not finding a way to win them. It's tough right now. We're fighting -- we're just not winning games. It's tough. It's frustrating. There's a lot of guys that have been here, we're not used to this. We'll grind it out, but we've got to find a way to start winning some games."
They didn't win any this weekend, suffering their first three-game sweep in Baltimore since Sept. 2-4, 1974. Now, the Sox will go home and play four straight against the Angels, the team that swept them in last October's AL Division Series. And after that, the Yankees come to town for three.
"They're good teams," Pedroia said. "It doesn't get any easier. Everyone thought Baltimore was three easy wins and we got [beat] three times. We're going to have to play a lot better, especially against those teams."
The 11-14 Red Sox fell to 1-5 in extra-inning games, marking the first time since 1943 that as many of six of their first 25 games have gone extras.
This one ended with Ty Wigginton smacking Jonathan Papelbon's hanging slider for a walk-off double with nobody out in the 10th. Nick Markakis opened the inning by drawing a walk on a 3-2 pitch and then advancing to second when Papelbon's attempted pickoff throw to first went into the stands for an error.
"I just didn't get hips around and rushed it a little bit," said Papelbon.
"We're trying to not let them run," said manager Terry Francona. "We put them in scoring position. We put ourselves in a tough spot. A walk and an error, I agree, it's a tough way to start the inning."
Of the seven games the Orioles have won, four have been against the Red Sox.
Two of the three games this weekend were extra-inning defeats. On Saturday night, Boston blew a 4-1 lead and lost, 12-9.
"It wasn't a lot of fun," said Francona. "You show up to win and you didn't. "We're going to have to regroup in a hurry and figure it out."
They had their chances to win this one. In the top of the 10th, the Sox had runners on first and second and one out. But Marco Scutaro hit a ground ball to shortstop Julio Lugo, who easily stepped on the bag and completed the double play.
Another key sequence came in the top of the eighth. With runners on first and second and two outs, Pedroia ripped a single to left. Red Sox third-base coach Tim Bogar went for it, giving Jason Varitek the green light. However, Varitek was thrown out by several feet. Francona said that Bogar made the right call.
On a hot and humid afternoon, Varitek said he ran out of steam.
"I actually wasn't running fast enough to get there," Varitek said. "I gave it what I had. I had a good turn, a good jump and the wheels weren't quite moving."
Baltimore nearly took the lead in the bottom of the eighth, loading the bases with one out. But Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard struck out Luke Scott on 99-mph heat and froze Nolan Reimold on a changeup.
"He got himself in trouble and got himself right out of it with some extraordinary pitches," Francona said.
Aside from Bard's escape act, the other positive development of the day for the Sox was the work of ace Josh Beckett, who rebounded from a pair of shaky outings to turn in seven strong innings. The righty gave up six hits and two runs, walking none and striking out six.
"I definitely think I took some strides forward from my previous two outings," Beckett said. "But a sweep is a sweep. It's frustrating for us to go home like that."
Baltimore's Kevin Millwood matched Beckett pitch for pitch, giving up five hits and two runs over eight innings. Millwood's only blemishes were solo homers by Varitek and J.D. Drew. With the Red Sox trailing, 2-0, after four, Varitek chopped that in half in the top of the fifth by belting his fifth homer of the season, a 402-foot rocket over the wall in right. Drew's shot to center in the seventh was his third of the weekend and fifth on the season.
If it seemed the Red Sox were gaining momentum, the O's had other ideas. So after opening this six-game road trip with a sweep in Toronto, the Red Sox had the same thing done to them.
"We could have won all three of these games and had a great road trip," Pedroia said. "Instead, we're 3-3. We've dug ourselves a hole and it's really not going to cut it."
"It's frustrating," Beckett said. "You come in here and you try to win every series and you get swept. That's backwards from what we're trying to do."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.