Rapid Reaction: O's 6, Sox 4

BOSTON -- The Baltimore Orioles, the cellar dwellers of the AL East, came to Fenway Park for a crucial four-game series and beat the Red Sox three times.

It’s been a terrible month for the Sox, who are 5-16 in September after dropping the series finale Wednesday night, 6-4.

The loss left the Red Sox two games ahead of the Rays for the AL wild card pending Tampa's night game in New York.

“I’m not in a very good mood right now because we lost a game,” Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. “We’ve lost a lot of games. We’re going to have to fight for everything we get the rest of the way out and see if we can make it happen to get to where we want to go. We certainly haven’t made it easy for ourselves. That doesn’t mean we can’t get to where we want to go, but we have our work cut out for us.”

Boston has received just three quality starts this month and it needed Josh Beckett to stop the bleeding. The right-hander worked 7 1/3 innings, but allowed six runs on seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. He also surrendered a pair of home runs and tossed 109 pitches (77 strikes).

Boston has received one quality start this month and needed Josh Beckett to stop the bleeding. The right-hander worked 7 1/3 innings and allowed six runs on seven hits with one walk and eight strikeouts. He also surrendered a pair of home runs, both to the Orioles’ Mark Reynolds.

Beckett was solid in the first five innings and the only run he allowed was Reynolds’ solo shot in the second.

“The results were good but I got away with some mistakes,” Beckett said.

The Sox held a 4-1 lead before the Orioles pushed a run across in the top of the sixth. Reynolds then added a two-run homer in the seventh to tie the game at 4-4.

Beckett came back out for the eighth and recorded a quick out, but allowed back-to-back hits to put runners on second and third, and was removed from the game after 109 pitches. Reliever Alfredo Aceves entered the game and quickly allowed a two-run single to Vladimir Guerrero for the decisive runs.

A series loss like this one, at this time of the season and with a postseason berth at stake, is not easy to take.

“It’s tough,” Beckett said. “I wish I could have done better today. Things just didn’t work out. I got away with some things early, but I didn’t get away with them later on.

“You want to pitch good all season long, especially when your team needs you. You want to give them innings, and quality innings, but that was something I wasn’t able to do today.”

BE GONZO: Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez registered his 208th hit, which is the most by a first baseman in club history (Mo Vaughn had 207 in 1996). Gonzalez finished the night 2-for-4 and went 10-for-16 in the series.

THERE IT IS: Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford went 3-for-4, including a triple, two-run double, a single and scored a run. Despite missing a doubleheader on Monday due to a stiff neck, he’s hit safely in 15 of his last 19 games with a .310 average during this stretch.

“Very good,” Francona said of Crawford’s night. “If he wants to get real hot like he can, that will really help us.”

TAKE THE FIFTH: Second baseman Dustin Pedroia batted fifth in the order for the first time in his big league career. Manager Terry Francona said earlier in the day he felt Pedroia would give protection to David Ortiz and Gonzalez, which would give Boston its best chance to win. Pedroia went 1-for-5, including a double and run scored.

WEB GEM: Not only did Gonzalez produce offensively, he flashed the leather too. With two outs in the top of the fourth inning, the Orioles’ Matt Wieters turned on a ball that appeared headed for a hole on the right side for a hit. Gonzalez dove to his right and snared the hot grounder, then made a perfect throw to Beckett for the out to end the inning.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Red Sox finished the regular season with a 45-36 record at Fenway Park. The final attendance at home was 3,054,001, which is the second highest in franchise history (2009).

UP NEXT: The Red Sox are off Thursday before they begin the final road trip of the regular season. Boston will play the Yankees in a three-game set, beginning Friday in New York. The Sox will end the season with three games at Baltimore. Jon Lester will start Friday for the Sox, and Tim Wakefield will go on Saturday. The starter for Sunday is TBD.

“We’ll be excited,” Francona said about heading to New York to play the Yankees, a team Boston has had success against this season. “We’ll take tomorrow to kind of regroup, get ourselves set up, and see if we can go play a little bit better.”