By Jessica Camerato
BOSTON - It wasnt a matter of choice, but rather of necessity.
As Matt Albers stood on the mound while the Chicago Cubs scored five runs in the eighth inning (six were attributed to him by the time the inning was over), he knew he had to work his way out of the jam.
Usually a pitcher would have been pulled by that point, but the Boston Red Sox didnt have that option on Saturday night against the Cubs.
Prior to the game, Terry Francona had made the decision to rest Daniel Bard for the second straight night - Weve been leaning on him a lot, he said after the game - leaving only newcomer Franklin Morales and Jonathan Papelbon left behind Albers.
That meant Albers had to keep on throwing.
I knew with Bard down tonight I was probably going to have that inning and worked out great, we had the lead to that point, said Albers following the Red Sox 9-3 loss. I just didnt do my job.
Albers entered the game with a 3-1 lead, but gave up five earned runs, three hits, and two walks over 31 pitches. Morales eventually replaced Albers, but by then the damage was done. The inning - which included eight runs, five hits, and three errors in total - changed the course of a game which the Red Sox had maintained a lead the majority of the night.
It didnt go good, said Albers. I had a few guys two strikes, just wasnt able to put them away. They had a couple tough at bats and a couple back-to-back walks there hurt me. Obviously just didnt get the results I was looking for.
The Red Sox built a lead early on with Alfredo Aceves making his first start as a member of the Red Sox. Aceves threw 86 pitches over five innings, giving up only one earned run. Francona was pleased by the length of the outing.
I thought he did a really good job, Francona said. Probably gave us a little bit more than we could have asked for. Again, without being terribly stretched out - I think he threw 74 pitches in a Triple-A start - but he did pretty well. And again, he gave us a good chance to win the game.
Aceves said he thought he could pitch into the sixth inning and hopes to do so in his next outing. He was happy with his overall performance, but noted room for improvement. Aceves hit two batters, including hitting Marlon Byrd in the face in the second inning. (Byrd left the game and was hospitalized for further examination.)
Nothing intentional, obviously, said Aceves. I asked a couple of guys from here if he had an MRI or something if hes ok. Im concerned, hes a Major League player.
Dan Wheeler relieved Aceves and along with Rich Hill pitched two scoreless innings. Enter Albers, and exit the Red Sox win.
I dont think he pitched as bad as the lines going to show, said Francona. His command wasnt as good as its been with his two-seamer. They had a couple good at-bats. (Aramis) Ramirezs 10-pitch at-bat was a really good one, a couple of the breaking balls were left over the middle. Because of the score of the game, they get the first couple of hits and then the walk, and then all of a sudden youre pitching to the scoreboard and then it really unraveled. We dropped balls, we threw them away, just got a little bit ugly.
As the Red Sox watched their lead turn into a loss, Bard sat anxiously, knowing there was nothing he could do to help. While it was difficult to do, he knows it will help him in the long run.
I wanted to be in there bad, he said. Just competitive nature and also just wanting to help the team. But we set that up before the game and they stuck to it.
Noted Francona, We made the decision before the game to give him yesterday and today. And thats why we do it before the game, because your emotions get the best of you during a game and you want to use him. Weve been leaning on him a lot and itll do him a world of good. It didnt do us a world of good tonight, but its something we needed to do.
The Red Sox snapped a seven-game winning streak and lost for the first time since May 11. They also lost for the first time at Fenway Park since May 6.
David Ortiz hit his 300th career homerun as a member of the Red Sox in the fourth inning. He became only the fifth player to do so, joining Ted Williams (521), Carl Yastrzemski (452), Jim Rice (382), and Dwight Evans (379).
Its an honor for me to be mentioned in that category with those guys that played here for a long time and through the years were putting up great numbers, he said.
Ortiz also tied Manny Ramirez for sixth on the all-time list of most homeruns hit at Fenway Park (142). When asked what he liked most about hitting at Fenway, he laughed, I think Fenway has taken a lot of homers away from me, thats what I think.
Kevin Youkilis also set a Red Sox mark, only this isnt exactly a list players strive to be at the top of. Youkilis became the Red Sox all-time leader in hits by pitches (72), passing Mo Vaughn.
The Red Sox' three errors were the most committed by the team since August 4, 2010 against the Cleveland Indians. They committed three in a single inning for the first time since June 3, 2009 against the Detroit Tigers made by Dustin Pedroia, Nick Green, and Mike Lowell (also in the eighth inning).
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comjcameratonba.