BOSTON -- For a surprisingly large percentage of the crowd of 33,296 at Fenway Park, Wednesday night was a lost cause even before Joe Nathan emerged from the visitors’ bullpen, though the Red Sox trailed by only a run at the time.
Had folks known Nathan’s personal history against the Sox, the place might have emptied faster than Mass during the final hymn.
And three easy groundballs later, Nathan had kept his perfect record intact against the Sox, converting his 16th save in 16 tries in a 3-2 win over Boston in a game that bore only passing resemblance to the sport contested here the night before.
A mere 24 hours after the Red Sox had scored in each of the first seven innings while racking up season highs in runs (17) and hits (19), they were rendered helpless by Alexi Ogando and four relievers, including Nathan, who held them to single runs in the sixth and eighth.
That was of no benefit to Sox starter John Lackey, who held the Rangers to a run in six innings, that coming on Adrian Beltre’s home run to dead center field in the fourth. Lackey did not walk a batter, struck out five, and allowed just five hits, and was heartened by Dustin Pedroia’s fly-ball home run into the light stanchion in left that tied the score at 1 in the sixth.
But the Sox bullpen, in what ranks as a rare slip these days, gave the lead right back. Mitch Moreland led off the seventh with a double on which he pulled up lame at second. The runner who replaced him, Jeff Baker, inexplicably did not advance on a bunt out, but Breslow walked pinch-hitter Craig Gentry before giving way to Koji Uehara.
Elvis Andrus greeted Uehara with a two-run double that gave the Rangers a 3-1 lead. The Sox got one back in the eighth, when Mike Napoli scored from first on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s flared double to right, but Stephen Drew rolled out to end the inning, just as Jonny Gomes had flied out with runners on second and third to end the seventh.
The loss ended Boston’s winning streak at three. They’ve lost three of four to the Rangers this season.