By Sean McAdam
CSNNE.com Red Sox Insider Follow @sean_mcadam
TORONTO -- It was so close, Tim Wakefield could almost taste it: Up by two runs, six outs to go and Daniel Bard, the Red Sox' dependable set-up man, pitching the eighth.
But then things went horribly wrong. Bard had command issues, walking three and hitting another batter. And when Matt Albers came in gave up a three-run double, the Red Sox had lost the lead and Wakefield had lost a chance -- his seventh -- to win career victory No. 200.
Wakefield, however, insisted he had some responsibility for the loss, even though he left with a three-run lead after five innings.
"I struggled the first three innings throwing strikes," said Wakefield. "I put a lot of pressure on (the bullpen) from the sixth on to the ninth. I'll take the blame for not getting deeper into the game and not giving those guys some rest."
Wakefield had difficulty commanding the knuckler in the first three innings, tossing two wild pitches, walking three and hitting a batter.
He was far better later, retiring six of the last seven hitters he faced.
Wakefield has had seven chances at 200 -- he hasn't won since July 24 -- and was asked if he feels at all snakebit in his pursuit of history.
"If it happens, it happens," he said philosophically. "If it doesn't, it doesn't change what I've done. I'd like it to happen. But more important is for us to get into the postseason and we're trailing the Yankees by 2 12 games now.
"That's our ultimate goal."
Bard had a 1.46 ERA over his last 56 outings before Wednesday night, but was charged with five runs in an inning, blowing the lead and Wakefield's chance at No. 200.
After getting the final out with an inherited runner in the seventh, Bard allowed the first three hitters in the eighth to reach on a hit batsman, single and walk. He then struck out two before walking Eric Thames to force in one run.
That brought Jose Bautista to the plate and Bard got ahead 0-and-2 before losing him, walking him to force in another run and tie the game.
"My command kind of came and went as the inning progressed," said Bard. "I just didn't have good timing with my delivery."
But even after his struggles, Bard maintained confidence in himself.
"I'm definitely a believer that until the run crosses the plate, I'm going to try to find a way to keep that from happening," he said. "I fully believed, with the bases loaded and no outs, that I could get out of that. I never doubted that."
Worse, the blown lead meant that another chance for Wakefield to win his 200th was gone.
"When I got in the clubhouse," said Bard, "Wakefield, he was the first guy to come up, shake my hand and pat me on the back. He knows how hard I'm trying. To be that close to getting out of it with the lead intact makes it even tougher.
"But we're trying for him. He did his job today; I didn't do mine."
Terry Francona was asked if he gave any thought to bringing in Jonathan Papelbon for a four-out save in the eighth.
"I wanted Bard to get through Bautista," explained Francona. "He handled Bautista so well. I actually thought staying with Bard was the right thing to do."
As if things weren't frustrating enough in the eighth inning, things didn't get any better in the top of the ninth.
Adrian Gonzalez homered to bring the Sox to within two, and singles to David Ortiz, a groundout and a single by Marco Scutaro scored another, making it 11-10.
Francona had Mike Aviles pinch-run for Scutaro, but Aviles, representing the potential tying run, got thrown out attempting to steal second base for the final out of the game.
"I didn't have a great jump for one," said Aviles. "For two, that's probably the best pitch to get thrown out on. It wasn't a pitchout, but it was up and out. It just didn't work out."
The Jays had Jose Molina behind the plate, "one of the best in the business in throwing out runners," said Aviles. "So I knew I needed to get a good jump. I don't feel like I got a good jump, but he did a good job getting rid of it."
Josh Beckett, who returned to Boston Tuesday to have his ailing right ankle examined, rejoined the Red Sox Wednesday.
"It's going to be common sense when it comes to his program," said Francona. "We'll see how he does. Once he's ready to start that five-day routine, we'll get him going."
Beckett was walking around the clubhouse with a bootbrace device on his ankle. He was not available to speak with reporters before Wednesday night's game.
With Beckett out for his next start and Erik Bedard skipped to give his knee extra rest, the Red Sox don't yet have a starter announced for Tuesday, when they begin a homestand with Toronto.
"We haven't gotten that far," said Francona.
J.D. Drew (finger) attempted to throw Tuesday, but was unable to do so because of lingering soreness.
"And he hasn't been able to swing either," said Francona, "so we're nowhere."
Clay Buchholz threw long toss from a distance of about 105 feet for about 60 throws.
"Good day," observed Francona of his starter. "He's picking up the intensity, picking up the distance. He'll take Thursday off and move out to 120 feet. He's tolerating everything."