BOSTON -- Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard has always been reliable when he’s entered the game with a lead, especially for the majority of this season.
The hard-throwing right-hander has struggled the last month and that continued on Wednesday afternoon at Fenway Park as he lost for the third time in as many appearances.
Bard entered the game in the top of the seventh inning with a two-run lead, but he surrendered a total of three runs (two earned) on one hit with two walks as the Toronto Blue Jays recovered from their deficit and beat the Red Sox, 5-4.
Bard had a 1.76 ERA in his first 51 appearances of the season, but since the beginning of August he has a 7.47 in only 15 outings.
On Wednesday, he walked the first two batters he faced, which is uncommon for Bard, and it unraveled from there.
NO LACKING MATTER: Red Sox pitcher John Lackey almost snapped a personal three-game losing skid, but had to settle for a no-decision. The veteran right-hander worked 5 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits with one walk and four strikeouts. When he exited the game, Boston had a 3-2 lead and the Sox extended that to 4-2 before Bard imploded and allowed three runs in the top of the eighth.
GONE-ZO: Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez collected his 26th home run of the season with a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the sixth inning. He crushed the first offering from Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero and deposited it into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center field to give Boston a 4-2 advantage. Gonzalez, however, was removed from the game in the top of the seventh inning because of tightness in his left calf and was replaced with Lars Anderson.
DEFENSIVE GEMS: The Red Sox were clinging to a one-run lead in the top of the sixth inning and the Blue Jays were threatening with one out and the potential game-tying run 90 feet away. Boston had its infield playing in when Toronto’s Adam Loewen hit a ground ball right at second baseman Dustin Pedroia. The runner on third, the Jays’ Brett Lawrie, broke on contact, so Pedroia quickly made the throw to the plate in plenty of time. Lawrie, at full speed, plowed into Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek, who held onto the ball for the out. Then with two outs, Red Sox left-handed reliever Franklin Morales picked off Loewen at first base to end the inning and the threat.
GOOD TIMES: The celebration continues for veteran pitcher Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer reached 200 career wins on Tuesday night, so the Red Sox honored his accomplishments in a pregame ceremony on Wednesday.
UP NEXT: The Red Sox begin a crucial four-game series on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Fenway Park. Right-hander Kyle Weiland (0-1, 6.75 ERA) will start for Boston, while Tampa sends righty Jeremy Hellickson (12-10, 2.96) to the mound. Weiland worked four innings and did not factor into the decision in Boston’s 6-5 loss at Tampa last week. He allowed three runs on six hits with three walks and one strikeout.
“The other day in Tampa, those are pretty tough circumstances for him, away against them,” Francona said. “We just think he can rise to the occasion and give us a chance to win.”