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Closing Time: Red Sox offense remains AWOL in another loss to Cubs

07.01.14 at 10:47 pm ET
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On a night when Clay Buchholz turned in one of his best outings of the season and the Red Sox scored the first run of the game, the team still could not pull out a victory, a combination of a pulse-less offense and a rare stumble by closer Koji Uehara combining to send the Sox to a dismaying 2-1 loss to the Cubs, their second straight defeat to Chicago.

After Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa turned in strong performances out of the bullpen to preserve a 1-1 tie, Uehara stepped in with the team expecting to see his usual quick ninth inning.

But even the usually dominant Uehara allowed the go-ahead run to score on a Luis Valbuena sacrifice fly, giving the Cubs a 2-1 victory. Uehara has not been his usual dominant self of late. In his last six appearances, the righty has allowed three runs on five hits — including three home runs — in six innings pitched.

The Red Sox now are 38-46 and sit 7 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE RED SOX

— The Red Sox offense remains dismal. Tuesday marked the 15th time in 22 games that the team scored two or fewer runs.

— Baserunning was not a strong suit for the Red Sox in the home half of the second inning. A.J. Pierzynski was thrown out by Cubs left fielder Chris Coghlan on a ball that arrived at second nearly 30 feet before the Red Sox catcher. Pierzynski was attempting to stretch a hard-hit liner off the Green Monster into a double.

The inning ended when Stephen Drew, with runners on first and third, broke for second base, lost his footing and could not get back to first in time to beat the throw from Cubs backstop Welington Castillo, resulting in a ruling of a caught stealing. The Sox are 27-for-45 on stolen base attempts this year, a 62 percent success rate that is worst in the AL.

— The struggles of Xander Bogaerts seemingly hit their most glaring moment in the fourth inning on Tuesday. The Cubs intentionally walked Pieryznski with Dustin Pedroia on second base and two outs in the inning. Bogaerts rewarded the Cubs’ decision to pitch around the Red Sox catcher by lining out to center fielder Justin Ruggiano.

In the month of June, Bogaerts hit .135/.176/.250 with three home runs, six RBIs, two doubles, 27 strikeouts and three walks. On June 1, Bogaerts’ batting average was .296. On July 1, Bogaerts’ batting average after the game is .245.

Mookie Betts went 0-for-4 and has yet to get a hit at Fenway Park. Betts also displayed on multiple occasions that there is room for improvement in the routes he takes to fly balls in the outfield.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE RED SOX

— The Laser Show continues to warm up. Pedroia turned in another three-hit performance, his third in the last four games. Pedroia appears to be heating up right before the All-Star break. In his last 11 games heading into Tuesday, the second baseman was hitting .333/.383/.429 with one home run, five RBIs and one double.

— Pierzynski reached base three times with two singles and a walk. Pierzynski had been struggling before Tuesday, hitting .143/.162/.143 with one RBI and no extra-base hits in his last 10 games.

— Following a Jackie Bradley double in the fifth inning, Brock Holt singled to left, moving Bradley to third. and Pedroia hit a sharp line drive to left, scoring Bradley from third. Since June 19, Bradley has been hitting better relative to his early-season performance. Heading into Tuesday, the outfielder was hitting .242/.286/.303 with two RBIs and two doubles since June 19, with manager John Farrell suggesting on multiple occasions that his more open stance has contributed to more competitive at-bats.

— Clay Buchholz turned in one of his strongest starts of the season, going 6 1/3 innings with two strikeouts, no walks, one earned run and five hits. The start was just the second time this season that Buchholz has allowed one run, with the last such performance coming in May against the Athletics when the righty went 6 1/3 innings, allowing three hits, one run, three walks and five strikeouts. In two starts since coming off the DL, he’s lowered his ERA from 7.02 to 6.22.

— Miller turned in another spectacular appearance out of the bullpen. Entering the game with runners on first and third, Miller gave the Cubs no shot, striking out pinch-hitter Junior Lake and Ruggiano. In the last at-bat to Ruggiano, Miller had an excellent pitch sequence, setting up his fastball away to make the count 2-2 before coming down and in with a nasty 84 mph slider.

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