BOSTON -- Perhaps it was the law of averages.
A Red Sox bullpen which has been so good and so dependable for the past six weeks picked a bad time to have a collective collapse Tuesday night, costing the Red Sox an 8-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
Alfredo Aceves allowed two runs in the top of the 10th after the Red Sox had rallied in dramatic fashion with a two-out, two-run homer from Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the bottom of the ninth.
Aceves walked Mark Reynolds to open the inning, and after a sacrifice bunt, allowed three straight singles, producing two runs.
It was just the second loss for Aceves since April 21.
"They are real good hitters over there,'' said Aceves. "We have to make our pitches. Unfortunately, we didn't get the result that we wanted.''
Trouble started when he put the potential go-ahead runner on base to start the inning.
"I was behind in the count,'' said Aceves. "Every (hitter) that you walk is going to score (in that situation), 100 percent.''
Aceves, who enjoys a heavy workload, hadn't pitched since Saturday, but said the rest wasn't a factor in his being less than sharp.
"It's just part of the job,'' he said. "Unfortunately, we lost. You're going to have bad days, but whatever.''
The two runs allowed by Aceves weren't the first runs scored off the Boston bullpen on the night. In the seventh, with the Red Sox clinging to a 4-3 lead, Bobby Valentine elected to lift starter Jon Lester after a leadoff single.
Scott Atchison, who had strung together 15 straight scoreless appearances covering 19 23 innings, was tagged for two runs when he allowed Lester's run and two more to score on two hits.
"Sooner or later, it was probably going to happen,'' said Atchison, who allowed a run for the first time since April 29. "Unfortunately it happened tonight with a one-run lead. But everything felt the same as it had been.''
Atchison wasn't hit particularly hard, with Robert Andino grounding a ball to right and J.J. Hardy singling to center. But the hits were costly nonetheless.
"Those things are going to happen,'' said Atchison. "It seemed like, with a runner in scoring position, some balls snuck through or were placed well. But that's part of it and there's nothing you can do about it. You can turn around tomorrow night and they can hit
five missles, all right at somebody. It's all part of it.''
Of his snapped scoreless streak, Atchison said: "It's been a good run. I kind of noticed it after a while. But it's over now; I'll get back out there tomorrow and try to start another (scoreless streak). That's kind of the best way to do it and that's what I plan to do.''