Rapid reaction: Padres 5, Sox 4

June, 21, 2011
BOSTON -- Wasted chances. Once-in-a-blue-moon occurrences (a David Ortiz stolen base). Walks. Walks. More walks. An unaccustomed poor spot start.

It all added up to a 5-4 loss for the Red Sox to the lowly San Diego Padres on Tuesday night before 38,422 fans, the largest post-World War II crowd at Fenway Park since 38,347 fans poured through the turnstiles on May 21, 2009.

Anthony Rizzo, the Red Sox uber-prospect sent to San Diego last winter as part of the deal that brought MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez to Boston, snapped a 4-4 tie with his broken-bat, bases-loaded ground-out to first in the seventh. Daniel Bard was victimized for the ground-out, but he had inherited the three base runners with one out from Dan Wheeler, who was charged with the loss.

It was only the third setback in the last 17 games for the Red Sox, who stranded 11 base runners, 7 in scoring position.

NOT THIS TIME: Considering the fact that the Red Sox have been missing three-fifths of their starting rotation at various points this season, it’s amazing the team was sitting in first place in the American League East with the league’s best record heading into Tuesday night’s game against San Diego.

Thanks to the versatility of Tim Wakefield and Alfredo Aceves, with Monday night’s start by recent call-up Andrew Miller mixed in, Boston has been able to withstand the loss of Daisuke Matsuzaka (Tommy John surgery) as well as the absences of John Lackey (disabled list from May 16 to June 5) and Clay Buchholz (presently on the DL).

Actually, the Sox have thrived with the fill-in starters, in part because of increased offensive support, but also because Wakefield and Aceves, when asked to start, have gone deep enough in games to keep the relievers from being taxed.

Manager Terry Francona dipped into that well again Tuesday night, summoning Aceves from the bullpen, this time to fill in for Josh Beckett, who has been experiencing some stomach distress.

This time, Aceves did not have his good stuff, but he still was able to struggle his way through five innings, giving Boston a chance to win on a night when he had control issues that would have driven a Little League pitcher from the mound.

In the second inning, Aceves walked five batters in a row. That’s right -- five -- gift-wrapping two runs for the offense-challenged Padres. He threw 11 consecutive pitches out of the strike zone at one point, and he was not being squeezed by plate umpire Brian O’Nora.

Aceves was missing the target set out by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia by wide margins, consistently yanking his fastball down and away to right-handed hitters. And in the third, he was tagged for three two-out hits in a row for two more runs, putting the Sox in a 4-1 hole.

Michael Bowden got the call to warm up in the second. Bowden also got the call to warm up in the third. By the fifth inning, Boston had crept to within one run, at 4-3. This time it was Dan Wheeler warming up in the bullpen. Aceves finally found his rhythm in the fifth, working a spotless inning.

By then, he was done, having thrown 99 pitches, only 53 for strikes. He walked six and hit a batter. He also fanned four. It wasn’t Aceves’ best outing, but, considering how badly he struggled, the Sox had to be happy that they were down by only one run and hadn’t had to burn the bullpen.

Wheeler took over in the sixth.

SOMETHING TO SEE: Every time you go to a ballgame, there’s always a chance you’ll see something you’ve never seen before.

David Ortiz provided one of those moments Tuesday night.

He was at first base with one out in the fifth. As San Diego pitcher Mat Latos went to his set position, not paying any attention to Ortiz, the Sox’ designated hitter decided to try to steal second. He took off too soon, while Latos still was perched on the pitching rubber in his set position.

While several of Latos’ teammates were yelling for him to step off the rubber and spot Ortiz in no-man’s land between first and second, Latos instead threw a pitch to the plate. Ortiz, who had hesitated for a moment because he was such a dead duck on the base path, started to run again, rumbling for second.

Ortiz, listed at 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, easily slid in ahead of the throw from catcher Nick Hundley.

It was Ortiz’ first stolen base since Aug. 3, 2008, against Oakland.

In between Ortiz’ stolen bases, 570 players had at least one stolen base and nine pitchers had at least one stolen base.

Ortiz now has 11 stolen bases in his big-league career.

SOMETHING TO SEE, PART II: It isn’t often you see a 1-5-4 double play, but Adrian Gonzalez hit into one in the third inning.

With runners at first and second and none out, Gonzalez hit a hot shot to the mound. San Diego pitcher Mat Latos initially grabbed the ball, but it fell out of his glove. He threw to third for one force-out, and third baseman Chase Headley threw to shortstop Jason Bartlett covering second base for the second out.

LACK OF FUNDAMENTALS: The Red Sox pushed their first run across in the bottom of the first inning thanks in part to a poor throw from center fielder Cameron Maybin on Kevin Youkilis’ two-out double off the wall in left-center.

Maybin missed the cutoff man, overthrowing shortstop Jason Bartlett. Second baseman Orlando Hudson was backing up Bartlett and caught the ball. But the extra few seconds it took the ball to get to Hudson gave Adrian Gonzalez, one of the slowest base runners in the league, a chance to score from first on the play.

Gonzalez slid in just ahead of Hudson’s throw.



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