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Closing Time: Blue Jays 6, Red Sox 5

08.12.10 at 3:35 pm ET
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TORONTO — The Red Sox were on the verge of walking away from their three-game series with the Blue Jays with a sweep, and a healthy dose of momentum heading into the teeth of the pennant race. But then came the ninth inning.

The Sox entered the final frame up, 5-2, but John Lackey stumbled and Jonathan Papelbon could not preserve a two-run lead. The result was a 6-5 win for the Jays and one of the more disappointing losses of the season for the Sox.

After Lackey had held the Jays to just two runs over eight frames, things started going astray for the Sox. First, Lackey — shooting for his first complete game of the year — gave up a leadoff homer to Jose Bautista to cut the Sox’ lead to two runs. And then Papelbon came on and allowed the first three Jays’ hitters he saw to reach via hits. The closer proceeded to strikeout Travis Snider, but then allowed a game-tying double to Edwin Encarnacion. That drove Papelbon from the game, paving the way for an entrance by Daniel Bard.

Fred Lewis greeted Bard with a fly ball to center field, just deep enough to score Hill from third with the game-winning run without a play at the plate, dropping the Sox four games behind the Rays in the wild card race.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

Jonathan Papelbon had some struggles, giving up two hits on his first two pitches. The first was a double by Vernon Wells, who was immediately brought in via Adam Lind‘s single up the middle to close the gap to a single run. Aaron Hill then singled off Papelbon’s foot to put runners on first and third with nobody out. After striking out Snider on a 98 mph fastball, Encarnacion would drive the closer from the game in favor of Bard. It was the fifth time Papelbon had given up three runs in an outing during his career as a reliever, and third time this season. With six blown saves this year, he has matched a career high.

– The man of the hour Wednesday night, Bill Hall, had a rough game, joining Adrian Beltre as the only two members of the Red Sox’ starting lineup not to claim a hit. Hall, who was coming off a game in which he hit two homers, went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– After two subpar outings, Lackey turned in a very effective outing. The righty kept the ball on the ground — especially in some key situations (as was evidenced by two inning-ending double plays) — and he managed to limit the Jays to just one hit with runners in scoring position. Lackey fell just short of his first complete game as a member of the Red Sox after totaling one last season, having had 14 for his career, having to leave after Bautista led off the ninth with a homer to left.

Jed Lowrie continues to impress, this time doing so while subbing in at shortstop for Marco Scutaro. Two games after hitting a rocket off the center field wall while batting left-handed, Lowrie turned around and walloped his first home run of the season, and fifth for his career, slightly to the right of straightaway center. He is now hitting .313 since returning from the disabled list.

– Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia made quite an impression in his first start as a member of the Red Sox. He first gunned down Toronto’s Aaron Hill trying to steal second, and then came through with the bat, finishing with a pair of doubles. The last time the 25-year-old caught in the majors on a regular basis (with Texas in 2009) he threw out 19 of 61 baserunners attempting to steal (24 percent).

– Besides Saltalamacchia, three other members of the Red Sox lineup notched a pair of hits, with David Ortiz, Victor Martinez and Darnell McDonald all accomplishing the feat. One of Ortiz’ hits happened to be his 25th homer of the season, allowing him to join Ted Williams and Jim Rice as the only Red Sox players to have more than six seasons of 25 or more homers. Williams finished with 14, while Rice had seven.

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