Bullpen fails Sox in 7-6 loss to O's

Bullpen fails Sox in 7-6 loss to O's
September 29, 2013, 5:00 pm
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BALTIMORE -- A number of bullpen spots are still up for grabs on the Red Sox' post-season roster, but Sunday, in the final game of the regular season roster, a number of candidates pitched as though they weren't interested in cementing the spots.
      
The Sox had a 5-0 lead, but the bullpen yielded seven runs and the Sox lost to Baltimore, 7-6. That left the Red Sox with a 97-65 record, an improvement of 28 games over last year.
      
The Sox trailed by two in the ninth, but Mike Napoli's RBI single scored David Ortiz. Pinch-runner Jackie Bradley Jr. represented the tying run on third but closer Jim Johnson got Will Middlebrooks to hit into an game-ending double play.
      
Felix Doubront, who has been bounced from the rotation for the playoffs, hurt his cause the most, charged with five runs in his second relief appearance of the season.
      
Ryan Dempster and Matt Thornton didn't fare well either.
     
After a fourth inning that saw him issue a walk, Doubront came apart in the the fifth, yielding five hits and two walks.
      
After Rubby de la Rosa closed out the fifth, Thornton then started the sixth and allowed two quick hits and a wild pitch, leading to the go-ahead run. Dempster then inherited a baserunner on third and allowed the run to score on a single to right by Ryan Flaherty.
      
The Sox had jumped out to a quick 4-0 after just two innings.
      
Jacoby Ellsbury led off the first with a solo homer and Mike Napoli doubled homer David Ortiz with the second run just four batters into the contest.
      
In the second, after a one-out single from John McDonald, Quintin Berry lined a two-run shot down the right field line, doubling the Sox' lead.
      
Last-minute starter Allen Webster survived a rocky first in which he filled the bases with walks, and retired the last eight hitters he faced, resulting in three shutout innings.


STAR OF THE GAME: J.J. Hardy

Hardy smacked a double to the warning track in right-center, the biggest hit in the five-run fifth off Felix Doubront. He later came around to score a run, too.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Flaherty
When an errant throw by catcher Matt Wieters struck Jacoby Ellsbury and then hit the wrist of Chris Davis, the O's big home run hitter had to come out of the lineup. But Flaherty added two run-scoring singles off the bench as the O's didn't miss a beat.

GOAT OF THE GAME: Felix Doubront
Doubront pitched in relief, in part to see if he could help the Sox in the post-season. If Sunday is any indication, the answer is no. Doubront blew up in the fifth, allowing five hits and two walks for five runs as the O's wiped out a 5-0 deficit.

TURNING POINT: It came right down to the final inning, with Jim Johnson getting Will Middlebrooks to hit into a game-ending double play, with the potential tying run on third and the potential go-ahead run on first.

BY THE NUMNBERS: The Red Sox improved by 28 games over last year, the second-largest increase from one season to the next in franchise history.

QUOTE OF NOTE: "Overall, I couldn't be more proud of the way we went through the regular season and the position we're in. We're looking forward to coming on Tuesday and getting ready for Friday." John Farrell