By Sean McAdam
BALTIMORE -- After clawing back from a four-run deficit, the Red Sox experienced a nasty meltdown in the bottom of the eighth inning Wednesday night, leading to a 5-4 defeat to the Baltimore Orioles.
Daniel Bard, the third Red Sox pitcher of the game, allowed two singles to start the inning and a passed ball by Jason Varitek put both baserunners in scoring position.
When another pitch got away from Varitek, the catcher scrambled for the errant pitch and, tossing to Bard covering, the Sox cut down Nick Markakis at the plate.
But with the infield playing in, Vladimir Guerrero lined a single up the middle, scoring Derrek Lee with the winning run.
The Sox had rallied in dramatic fashion in the top of the inning when Adrian Gonzalez singled home Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis followed with a three-run homer into the seats in left.
Baltimore used the long ball in the fourth to take a 3-0 lead against Josh Beckett.
With two out and Derrek Lee on second, Luke Scott drove a pitch over everything in right, with the ball landing on Eutaw St., some 423 feet from home plate.
Beckett was enraged that Scott had flipped the bat after his swing and stared down Scott as he rounded the bases.
Appearing unnerved, Beckett then gave up a solo homer to Adam Jones, who drove a 2-and-0 fastball out to left.
Player of the Game: Vladimir Guerrero
It wasn't as crushing -- or as impressive -- as his Game 3 homer in the 2009 ALDS off Jonathan Papelbon, but Guerrero's single up the middle in the eighth inning scored the game-winner for the Orioles.
With Derrek Lee at third and one out, Daniel Bard was looking for a strikeout by going inside on Guerrero. Instead, Bard left a pitch out over the middle, and Guerrero, still capable of good plate coverage, drove it into center.
Honorable Mention: Jeremy Guthrie
The Orioles starter pretty much had his way with Red Sox hitters, shutting them out
over six innings while walking just one and striking out six.
Guthrie worked out of a first-and-third, one-out jam in the first, then got some help in the fourth when Nick Markakis threw out David Ortiz trying to score from second on a single to right.
The Goat: Daniel Bard
This wasn't Bard's night. He mislocated to both Markakis and Lee, allowing back-to-back singles to start the eighth.
Then he crossed up Jason Varitek, uncorking a pitch that broke away from Varitek. He followed that up with another errant pitch, then surrendered the game-winning single to Guerrero.
Turning Point: Bard gets wild
Bard's second errant pitch of the eighth resulted in a tagout of Markakis at the plate, but moved Lee to third, representing the go-ahead run, and forced the Red Sox to move the infield in. Guerrero then lined a pitch through the middle.
By the Numbers: 2
Kevin Youkilis's three-run homer in the top of the eighth was just the second three-run shot by the Red Sox in 23 games this season.
Quote of Note:
"Is this TMZ?'' -- Josh Beckett to reporters who asked about his staredown with Luke Scott and discussion with home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth after the bottom of the fourth.