BOSTON -- Often it's been the absence of the timely hit. At times it has been a mis-located pitch, or a botched defensive play. In Sunday's 7-6 12-inning loss to the Orioles, it was the Red Sox's base running that stood out as the bruise in a winnable game.
The Red Sox have played in an American-League high 34 one-run games this season and have a record of 15-19 in those contests.
Players expressed their frustration with yet another outcome that had them on the wrong side of the at-times thin line between winning and losing.
"We haven't won the close games," Dustin Pedroia said. "We've played a lot of one run games and that's the difference. One hit, one play in each of those games, it's a different story right now."
The Red Sox shot themselves in the foot defensively in the fourth inning when a Xander Bogaerts throwing error allowed a run to score, but Jackie Bradley Jr. made not one but two stellar defensive plays -- a leaping catch in center in the ninth and a throw home to erase Manny Machado in the seventh -- to save runs and keep the game within reach.
"It's frustrating," Bradley Jr. said. "You're doing things to get us back in the game. Pitching well. Start swinging the bats and getting some runs across the board. And just unable to finish it off today. Very frustrating."
Jake Peavy was as dejected as anyone despite the fact he allowed just one earned run in six innings on Sunday. The Red Sox have not won any of his last seven starts (their last win when Peavy started came on May 29), and he knows that even when he pitches well there are things he can clean up to help add to the lefthand side of the won-loss column.
"It's those little things," Peavy said. "Everybody would say what they could've done better. I could've not hit Delmon Young (who scored in the sixth inning) and walked [Ryan] Flaherty. We don't give up a run there, we win that game if everything else plays out the way it did.
"Once again, I take responsibility for it. Gotta do better. Gotta win on this day. That's just all there is to it. I'm as sick of it as you guys are sitting here talking about losing."
After a World Series championship season in which it seemed as though the dramatic moments late in games at Fenway Park always resulted in the Red Sox mobbing one another in victory, their record in one-run games has helped put them at the bottom of the AL East 88 games into the season.
"Obviously I think coming off of last year, I don't think that was in anybody's minds," Lester said. "That's something we gotta take a day at a time and continue to grind out. Just saw something upstairs, we've lost 19 one-run games. You go .500 in those games, it's a little different story. We just gotta keep grinding. For whatever reason we're just not winning those games and it's coming back to bite us right now. Just keep playing as hard as we can and hopefully we can start winning some of those games."
David Ortiz expressed some optimism despite his team landing a full 10 games under .500 with the loss (39-49). While the Sox offense has been largely silent in recent weeks, he pointed to Sunday's output as a source of hope.
"It happens, man," Ortiz said of dropping close games. "We hit pretty well today. We had 16 hits, scored six runs. That's better than before. Just couldn't keep up with the scoring or stop them from scoring runs."
Pedroia knows that if the team doesn't find ways to pull out games that are within its grasp, what has been a disappointing first half could eventually turn into lost season.
"We gotta win 'em," he said. "You can't talk about it. You gotta go do it. We haven't yet. We will."