Sox struggling to score as skid hits four

DETROIT -- The inability to score runs continues to plague the Boston Red Sox.

They were held to seven hits in Friday night's 6-2 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park, Boston's fourth straight defeat.

The team has scored only 11 runs in those four games.

Maybe even more telling is that Boston, which has been one of the best teams in baseball at working the count and driving up opposition pitch counts for quite a few years now, managed only one walk for the game -- by Grady Sizemore with one out in the second.

That means that, aside from an error by Tigers shortstop Andrew Romine with one out in the sixth that allowed Dustin Pedroia to reach base, the Red Sox had only eight baserunners on Friday night.

"Obviously, we're scuffling," Boston manager John Farrell said. "We're having a rough go, as far as people getting on base and getting hits when they do."

Things looked promising for the Sox coming into the series.

Sure, they were about to face the same Tigers that swept Boston in Fenway Park less than a month ago. But Detroit hasn't been playing that way recently. Friday night's win broke the Tigers' five-game losing streak, and Detroit is still only 5-13 in its past 18.

On the mound for Detroit was lefty Drew Smyly, and the Red Sox came into the contest 13-8 against southpaws.

And things certainly started out well.

Brock Holt led off with a line single up the middle and Xander Bogaerts followed by hammering a Smyly pitch to deep left-center. He thought he had a two-run homer.

"I hit it pretty good, I thought I had it," Bogaerts said.

But the ball hit the top of the fence and he had to settle for an RBI double as Holt scored easily. And the Red Sox seemed to be in good shape to add more with Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jonny Gomes the next three hitters.

But just as suddenly as Boston had taken a 1-0 lead, the offense vanished. Pedroia fouled out to first, Ortiz tapped a weak grounder to third and Smyly got Gomes looking.

Boston couldn't manage another hit off Smyly until Gomes' two-out double in the fourth. The hard smash, which ate up Nick Castellanos at third, could have easily been called an error. Jonathan Herrera had a double in the fifth, but the Red Sox didn't score again until the sixth. Smyly (3-4) allowed two runs (one earned) and five hits in six innings, walking one and striking out four.

"He was working inside and outside and changing speeds," Bogaerts said.

Boston managed its final run in the sixth.

Pedroia reached on Romine's error with one out and Ortiz followed with a single that sent Pedroia to third. Gomes then did what we are accustomed to seeing Red Sox hitters do in these situations. He battled back from a 1-2 count, got it to 3-2, fouled off several pitches and then hit a sacrifice fly to deep left-center to score Pedroia.

Boston could then manage only two singles off relievers Ian Krol, familiar foe Joba Chamberlain and struggling closer Joe Nathan.

Meanwhile, Red Sox starter Rubby De La Rosa (1-1) also got off to a good start but couldn't maintain it.

He retired the first six batters and then started leaving a few pitches up in the zone.

De La Rosa allowed single runs in the third and fourth innings and back-to-back home runs by Ian Kinsler and Torii Hunter with two out in the fifth. He left the game with two on and two out in the sixth, after throwing 96 pitches, 61 for strikes.

Burke Badenhop replaced him and got Rajai Davis on a groundout to end the inning.

De La Rosa's line: Four runs and nine hits in 5⅔ innings, two walks and five strikeouts.

"I made a couple of mistakes and I paid the price," said De La Rosa, who said he felt the same as he did when he pitched seven scoreless innings, struck out eight and didn't walk a batter in his first Red Sox start on May 31.

Farrell agreed.

"When he stayed down in the strike zone, he handled everybody in the lineup," the Boston manager said.

Detroit got two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth off of Chris Capuano on Victor Martinez's home run and Austin Jackson's sacrifice fly.

The Red Sox, who had won seven in a row after losing 10 in a row, have now lost four straight, and the defending World Series champs are sitting at six games under .500.

"We've got to find a way to be consistent," Pedroia said. "You can't do that when you follow winning streaks with losing streaks. ... When you win seven or eight in a row, you feel like you're never going to lose again and when you lose 10 in a row you don't think you're ever going to win again."