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Closing Time: Joel Hanrahan implodes in Red Sox’ loss to Orioles

04.10.13 at 10:45 pm ET
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The Red Sox‘ sellout streak came to an end Wednesday night, and so did the team’s seemingly unstoppable wave of optimism (at least for a day).

Joel Hanrahan surrendered five runs in the ninth inning — blowing a two-run Red Sox lead — on the way to dropping an 8-5 loss to Baltimore.

The Orioles tied the game with two outs in the ninth when Hanrahan’s wild pitch allowed pinch-runner Alexi Casilla to come in. The Sox closer then surrendered a three-run homer to Manny Machado over the left-field wall, sealing the hosts’ fate.

It also was, of course, the first time in 820 games (including the postseason) that the Red Sox hadn’t played before a sellout crowd at Fenway (dating back to May 15, 2003).

The Red Sox had claimed what looked to be the decisive lead thanks to back-to-back home runs from Daniel Nava and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the sixth inning against Baltimore reliever Tommy Hunter. Nava’s solo shot broke open a 3-3 tie, just clearing the left-field wall, while Saltalamacchia launched his over the Red Sox’ bullpen. It was Nava’s third homer of the season (and the second time he was involved in back-to-back homers this season) and Saltalamacchia’s first.

Prior to Hanrahan’s outing, the Red Sox bullpen had turned in another solid performance, with Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Andrew Bailey teaming for three innings of hitless, scoreless relief.

Here is what went wrong (and right) in the Red Sox’ loss.

WHAT WENT WRONG

‘€¢ After beginning the season with seven error-free games, the Red Sox outfielders stopped the streak, committing a pair. The first miscue came in the first inning, when Jacoby Ellsbury dropped a fly ball off the bat of Machado. Ellsbury appeared to be distracted by right fielder Shane Victorino, who was also positioning himself to make the catch. Victorino was actually charged with the error. Jackie Bradley then committed his first miscue as a major leaguer, dropping the ball while trying to mount a throw home on Matt Wieters’ single.

‘€¢ After taking a two-run lead in the third, Red Sox starter Ryan Dempster gave the lead back up in the following frame. The Orioles first closed the gap to a single run when Nick Markakis hit his first homer of the season into the Red Sox’ bullpen to lead off the inning. Then, after an Adam Jones single and Dempster wild pitch, Wieters plated his teammate with the game-tying run via a single to left.

‘€¢ Hanrahan has now allowed homers in back-to-back games. It was the first time he has suffered such a fate since April 17-18, 2009. The outing also marked just the second time the closer had allowed as many as five runs as a reliever.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

‘€¢ Dempster turned in a solid performance, allowing three runs (one earned) on three hits over five innings. The righty, who threw 93 pitches before exiting following the rain delay, struck out seven and walked three. After two starts this season, his ERA stands at 3.60.

‘€¢ Saltalmacchia kick-started the Red Sox’ offense after the Sox fell into a 1-0 hole, lofting a run-scoring double off the second inning, scoring Nava. Saltalamacchia would add another double in the fourth, eventually finding himself stranded at third base.

‘€¢ The speedy trio of Bradley, Ellsbury and Victorino helped the Red Sox gain the lead in the fourth. After a Bradley walk, Ellsbury rifled a triple into the left field corner which Baltimore outfielder Nate McLouth couldn’t come up with after diving. After Ellsbury’s arrival at third, Victorino would promptly plate the Sox’ third run via a sacrifice fly.

‘€¢ Uehara continued to cruise thus far, pitching a 1-2-3 sixth inning. The righty, who needed 14 pitches to retire his first six batters of the season, got all three Orioles he faced on a total of 12 pitches this time. Uehara hasn’t gone to one 1-0 count yet this season, having managed a single 1-1 count. He was followed by Tazawa, who also was perfect in his one inning of work (striking out two).

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