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Closing Time: Ninth-inning magic not enough as Red Sox fall to Blue Jays in extra innings

08.14.13 at 10:31 pm ET
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Jon Lester turned in a quality start but the Red Sox fell in extra innings to the Blue Jays. (AP)

Jon Lester turned in a quality start but the Red Sox fell in extra innings to the Blue Jays. (AP)

It appeared as if the magic was back on the Red Sox’ side when slumping Mike Napoli hit a two-run home run to tie the game in the top of the ninth with two outs. However, Boston left five runners on base over the next four outs and allowed Rajai Davis to score the game-winning run in the 10th inning on Brett Lawrie‘s single past a drawn-in infield against reliever Brandon Workman for a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.

The Lawrie liner deflected off shortstop Stephen Drew, allowing for the decisive run.

“Just trying to get a good read because you’ve got a guy on third who can really run,” Drew said. “Unfortunately, I thought I kind of had a bead on it and at the very end, it started taking off on me with it knuckling and it hit the very end of the web. At first, off the bat, I thought I’d be able to catch it and dive real quick but there’s no shot.”

The loss in extra innings came only a game after the Red Sox topped the Blue Jays in 11 innings. Boston is now 11-6 in games with a walk-off hit and 8-5 in games that go into extra innings.

Just about everything went wrong in the field for the Red Sox, who made three errors for the first time since July 21. Things went very differently in the field for Toronto though, as the Blue Jays made several diving catches to help keep the Red Sox off the basepaths.

It was another tough no-decision for Jon Lester (10-7, 4.31 ERA), who is still 2-3 in his last seven starts. Lester has only allowed more than three runs in an outing twice over that span.

“I think our game-plan was sound tonight,” Lester said. “It’s not like we were pitching out of trouble every inning. Had a couple of innings. [Edwin] Encarnacion hit I thought was a pretty good change up for a lead off double in the fourth or fifth. Really just trying to pitch around that, one pitch away from getting out of that inning and yank a fastball to [J.P.] Arencibia. But no I mean I think our game plan was sound, like I said I didn’t feel like I had my best off-speed stuff I’ve had the past couple starts, but I was able to go out there and battle.”

Here is a look at what went wrong (and right) for the Red Sox.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

– ­In what was likely the worst defensive sequence of the season for the Red Sox, Davis hit what essentially amounted to a Little League inside-the-park home run after Red Sox fielders made two errors on a weak ground ball. Lester made a nice play to block Davis’s grounder with his foot, but underhanded the ball wide of Napoli while trying to make the play at first. Shane Victorino ran in to collect the ball and appeared to have a chance to throw Davis out at third, but the ball hit Davis as he slid into the base and left him free to jog home for the first run of the game.

Lester, who was charged with another error in the seventh inning, earned his first two errors on the season in the game. Victorino only made his third error on the season on the Davis play. Entering Wednesday’s game, Victorino had eight outfield assists on the season, which was tied for second in the American League. WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford even raised the argument that he could be the best right fielder in the majors.

– Lester had trouble holding off Edwin Encarnacion, who had two runs and two hits on Wednesday. Prior to the outburst, he was only batting .196 with a .237 on-base percentage in 14 games against the Red Sox this season.

– The Red Sox failed to take advantage of their matchup with Esmil Rogers, who returned to the starting rotation after Josh Johnson landed on the disabled list. Rogers had lost his spot in the rotation after losing his last three starts with a 14.59 ERA, but had a great outing Wednesday night, only allowing one run on five hits while striking out six through six innings.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

– Lester had another solid outing on the mound that was not enough for the win due to little run support. Sure, he did little to help himself by committing a throwing error that led to the first run, but he allowed only two earned runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three through 6 1/3 innings.

It was Lester’s second straight loss in which he had one run in support. Lester has had four starts in which he has had one or fewer runs in support this season. In five starts since the All-Star break, he now has a 3.19 ERA.

– It could have been ball four for David Ortiz, but the slugger golfed a sinking slider over the fence in right-center field to bring the Red Sox within one run in the top of the sixth. It was Ortiz’s 23rd home run of the season and third since the beginning of August.

Ortiz remains one of the top power hitters in the American League this season, and his .584 slugging percentage was only behind Miguel Cabrera (.683) and Chris Davis (.682) entering Wednesday.

– Though he ended up suffering the loss in the 10th inning, Workman offered a glimpse of his potential multi-innings impact out of the bullpen. He came on in relief of Lester and logged 2 2/3 innings without permitting a hit before he got touched for a Davis double, a groundout to advance the runner to third and, finally, the game-winning hit from Lawrie in the 10th. Still, Workman logged three strong innings in which he punched out four, allowed two hits and walked two (one intentionally).

“I left a couple breaking balls up that they hit pretty well that kind of cost me in the end,” the rookie said. “It’s kind of tough to feel good about it with the end result. But I did, for the most part, throw the ball pretty well. Just made a couple pitches that I wish I could get back.”

– Napoli broke out of his offensive slump with two outs in the top of the ninth when he hit a towering two-run homer to tie the game. Napoli broke an 0-for-16 streak with the blast, and did not strike out in a game for the first time since Aug. 7.

John Farrell has praised Napoli’s defense during his offensive slump, and he showed why in the bottom of the fifth inning when he made a nice sliding catch in foul territory to put out Jose Reyes. He also started a key double play with runners on first and second in the bottom of the sixth inning.

The former catcher’s defense has been among the best in the league all season, as he is second among major league first basemen with a 7.3 ultimate zone rating. That rating is only behind former Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (7.5 UZR) and former Red Sox prospect Anthony Rizzo (7.0 UZR).

Rob Bradford contributed to this report

Read More: David Ortiz, Jon Lester, mike napoli, Rajai Davis
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