BOSTON -- Boos poured down on the struggling Red Sox as they left the field after their latest loss. In the clubhouse, it was quiet as they packed for their final road trip -- and perhaps their last games -- of the year.
The Red Sox's road to the playoffs hit more rough spots when they blew another late lead, falling to the Baltimore Orioles 6-4 on Wednesday night, their 14th loss in 18 games.
Boston's lead in the AL wild-card race increased by a half game to 2½ when the Tampa Bay Rays lost a doubleheader to the New York Yankees. But the Red Sox seemed stunned by their collapse, with blank looks on their faces and little expression in their voices.
"We certainly haven't made it very easy for ourselves," manager Terry Francona said. "That doesn't mean we can't get where we want to go, but we have our work cut out for us."
Vladimir Guerrero hit a two-run single in the eighth inning that broke a 4-all tie. Then the Red Sox went meekly in the last two innings, failing to get a hit and ending on Jed Lowrie's soft grounder to pitcher Jim Johnson.
The Red Sox led Tampa Bay by nine games on Sept. 3. Now they also must hold off the Los Angeles Angels, who also are 2½ games out in the AL wild-card race after beating Toronto 7-2 on Wednesday.
The Red Sox have six games left -- three at Yankee Stadium and three at Baltimore. Tampa Bay has seven remaining -- four against the Yankees and three against Toronto.
Can the Red Sox, who straightened out their season after losing their first six games and 10 of their first 12, do it again?
"I think I can answer that better next Wednesday" after the regular-season finale, Francona said. "I'm not in a very good mood right now. We just lost a game, you know. We've lost a lot of games. We're going to have to fight for everything we get the rest of the way."
Ace Josh Beckett started for Boston, hoping to put more distance between Boston and the Rays. Beckett (13-6) allowed just one hit through five innings as the Red Sox built a 4-1 lead.
But he gave up a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh on Mark Reynolds' second homer that tied the game.
"I kept thinking when we kept it at 4-2, I thought we could get a big hit and we did," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
In the eighth, Beckett gave up a single to J.J. Hardy and a double to Nick Markakis. Alfredo Aceves relieved with runners at second and third, then gave up Guerrero's hard, two-run single to center field.
"You want to pitch good all year long, but especially whenever your team needs you," Beckett said. "You need to give them innings and quality innings and that was something I wasn't able to do."
One night before Boston's best starter faltered, star closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save chance for only the second time this season when he gave up a three-run double to Robert Andino in the eighth that gave Baltimore a 7-5 win.
Clay Rapada (2-0) got the win on Wednesday and Johnson earned his ninth save in 14 chances -- his third in as many days against Boston.
"It's pretty tough," Beckett said. "I wish I could have done better today. Things didn't work out. I got away with some pitches early and I didn't get away with them later on."
Carl Crawford, who has struggled most of the season after signing a seven-year, $142 million contract, had a single, double and triple for Boston and drove in two runs.
"That'll be welcome if he wants to get real hot like he can," Francona said. "That'll really help us."
Reynolds hit a solo homer in the second before Boston tied the game in the third on a triple by Crawford and an RBI groundout by Jason Varitek.
Crawford gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run double after a single by Adrian Gonzalez and a double by Dustin Pedroia. Consecutive singles by Mike Aviles, Gonzalez and David Ortiz made it 4-1 in the fifth against Tommy Hunter, who left the game with two outs in the seventh with a strained right groin.
"It got pretty tight," Hunter said. "It's one of those things that's been lingering all year. I'm glad I didn't throw another pitch."
The Orioles added a run in the sixth when Andino singled, stole second and scored on a single by Hardy. They tied it in the seventh when Matt Wieters singled and was forced out at second on a grounder by Adam Jones before Reynolds hit his 36th homer of the season -- his second of the game over the Green Monster in left field.
Reynolds tied a career-high with two homers in a game. It was the fifth time he did it this season and the 12th time in his career. ... After a day off on Thursday, the Red Sox begin a season-ending six-game road trip with Jon Lester (15-8) facing the New York Yankees in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night. Boston finishes the season with a three-game series in Baltimore starting Monday. ... With two hits, Gonzalez passed Mo Vaughn for the most hits in a season by a Red Sox first baseman. Gonzalez has 208, one more than Vaughn had in 1996. ... Jacoby Ellsbury got a hit for his 33rd consecutive game against Baltimore. It's the longest hitting streak against the Orioles franchise and the longest by a Red Sox player against any team.
- Home Plate Umpire - Mike Everitt
- First Base Umpire - Mike Winters
- Second Base Umpire - Chris Guccione
- Third Base Umpire - Mark Wegner