Third baseman Will Middlebrooks walked, singled and doubled in his first three major league plate appearances but it wasn't enough to save the Red Sox as they dropped the rubber game to the A's, 4-2, Wednesday night at Fenway Park. Daniel Bard was tagged for eight hits and all four runs in taking his third loss for the Red Sox, who fell to 11-13 on the season. Adrian Gonzalez went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Gonzalez, who grounded out to end the game as the tying run, is hitless in his last 17 at-bats as his average fell to .250 on the season.
Bard (2-3) was in control through the first three innings, allowing just one hit. But in the fourth, Yoenis Cespedes doubled and Seth Smith singled him home to put Oakland up, 1-0.
The Red Sox blew a golden opportunity in the fifth to at least tie the game when they put runners on first and second with none out against A's starter Brandon McCarthy. Josh Reddick dropped Jarrod Saltalamacchia's fly ball in right and Will Middlebrooks (who walked in his first plate appearance in the second) followed with his first major league hit, a chopper down the third base line that he beat out for an infield single. But Marlon Byrd flew out to right, Mike Aviles grounded out to second and Dustin Pedroia popped out to center to end the rally. McCarthy (2-3) held the Red Sox to one run and five hits over 6 2/3 innings.
Having survived that scare in the fifth, the A's added to the lead in the sixth when Bard tired quickly and was the victim of some shoddy fielding. Reddick opened with a single. With one out, Seth Smith hit a fly to the base of the Monster in left. Cody Ross over-ran the ball and mis-timed his jump, allowing the ball to fall on the warning track and allowing Reddick to score from first. The A's would score twice more before Bard was pulled by Bobby Valentine following a one-out RBI double from Brandon Inge, amidst more boos at Fenway.
Bard was finished after 101 pitches, allowing eight hits, four runs, two walks and one strikeout in 5 1/3 innings.
The Red Sox finally got to McCarthy in the seventh. Saltalamacchia opened with a single and Middlebrooks followed with a line drive double down the right field line. With runners on second and third and none out, Byrd lifted a sacrifice fly to left for Boston's first run. But after an Aviles pop-out, Ryan Sweeney walked, chasing McCarthy. Ryan Cook walked Dustin Pedroia to load the bases. But Adrian Gonzalez - mired in his worst slump of the season - struck out swinging on an 81 MPH slider to end the inning.
The game also marked the Red Sox debut of righthander Clayton Mortensen, the pitcher acquired from the Rockies in the offseason for shortstop Marco Scutaro. Mortensen was very impressive, allowing only a leadoff single to Cliff Pennington in the seventh and a wild pitch, striking out six in recording three shutout innings.