DETROIT -- As befits a team that went into Sunday with the best record in the American League, the Red Sox haven't often beat themselves this season.
On Sunday, however, it looked like they were trying to make up for lost time.
The Red Sox committed three errors that led to four unearned runs, and coupled with some shaky relief work and one suspect call by the umpires, essentially gift-wrapped a game to the Detroit Tigers, 7-5.
Before Sunday, the Sox had allowed 20 unearned runs to score in the first 77 games. Then they allowed four in the span of seven innings.
"Defensively, we made a number of miscues that led to four unearned runs,'' said John Farrell, 'when typically, we've been a very solid and sound defensive team...We contributed to the seven runs allowed today defensively.''
"We've been playing good defense [the whole season],'' said second baseman Dustin Pedroia, "so it's unfortunate when [these things] happen.''
It began in the second inning when a passed ball by Ryan Lavarnway allowed the Tigers to score the third run of the game.
But the Sox really came unglued in the seventh and eighth when their impression of the Bad News Bears handed the game to Detroit.
Some errors were physical; others were more mental.
- In the second, with two outs and runners at the corners, catcher Ryan Lavarnway couldn't handle a pitch from Felix Doubront and the ballskipped to the backstop, allowing Bryan Holaday to score from third with Detroit's third run of the game.
- In the seventh, with a runner on, Dustin Pedroia dropped a "knuckling'' liner by Torii Hunter.
"I kept it front of me,'' explained Pedroia, "but I probably should have thrown it to second becasue I think Torii kind of stopped. You line out and you get frustrated right away.''
Gathering the ball, Pedroia fired to first baseman Mike Napoli, who stood in between Hunter and baserunner Austin Jackson, scrambling back to the bag.
"When I thought he was going to catch it,'' said Napoli, "I was thinking 'double [Jackson] off first. I was coming around and I really can't remember if I came off the bag or not. But he threw me the ball and I figured get the [hitter] out first and then get the other guy. But it should have been the other way around.''
Had Napoli elected to tag Jackson first and then tagged first, the Sox would have had a double play.
"Instinctually, he tagged the bag [first],'' said Farrell.
But in the confusion, Napoli first stepped on the bag, recording an out on the batter Hunter, but allowing Jackson to remain at first.
"It's something you definitely learn from,'' said Napoli. "But in that situation, you're thinking (get) two outs. I started tagging everybody, tagged the base...It was just a weird play. I wish it would have worked out.''
"It was kind of weird,'' said Pedroia. "I've never seen that play in my life. I never seen it, so you don't know what to do. There's a lot of stuff going on. I was telling at Nap to tag everyone, but you've got to do it in [the right] order, I guess.''
- Later in the same inning, Andrew Miller allowed a single to Prince Fielder but then struck out Victor Martinez and got ahead 0-and-2 to Jhonny Peralta before coming inside to Peralta and plunking him on the leg, forcing the tying run in.
"It stinks,'' said Miller, "you do all the hard work and get ahead 0-and-2 and then you can't execute a pitch.''
Miller's foibles didn't end there.
In the eighth, after umpires ruled that Avisail Garcia's fly ball was dropped instead of caught by Daniel Nava, the Tigers had the potential go- ahead run in scoring position.
Catcher Bryan Holaday dropped down a bunt, which Miller fielded cleanly. But his throw to first, with second baseman Dustin Pedroia covering, was high and as Pedroia leaped to make the grab, Holaday was safe at first.
Instead of a runner on third with one out, the Tigers had runners at the corners and no out.
"I made a bad throw,'' said Miller. "I thought Pedey might still have been on the bag, but it's irrelevant. The throw's got to be better.''
It got worse still with a walk to Austin Jackson, loading the bases with no out.
Alex Wilson came in to face Torii Hunter, Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder and Victor Martinez.
Hunter hit a go-ahead sacrifice fly to score Garcia and after an intentional walk to Cabrera, Fielder singled up the middle to score two more.
"I put us in a hole,'' said Miller, "and that's on me. A lot of stuff happened there. It was pretty disappointing.''
So, too was the series as a whole. The Sox dropped three out of four to Detroit, but handed two of the wins to Detroit -- Bailey gave up a walk-off homer in the opener, and the bullpen and a handful of mistakes Sunday helped kick the final game of the series away, too.