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Bullpen stumbles during walk-off loss in 10

MLB.com @gregorMLB

BOSTON -- The Blue Jays' bullpen had almost single-handedly carried Toronto during its current four-game series at Fenway Park, but it finally faltered at the most inopportune time.

Veteran reliever Tyler Clippard could not protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, and right-hander Chris Rowley surrendered a walk-off grand slam to Xander Bogaerts one inning later as a 2-1 lead turned into a 6-2 loss Saturday at the hands of the Red Sox.

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BOSTON -- The Blue Jays' bullpen had almost single-handedly carried Toronto during its current four-game series at Fenway Park, but it finally faltered at the most inopportune time.

Veteran reliever Tyler Clippard could not protect a one-run lead in the bottom of the ninth, and right-hander Chris Rowley surrendered a walk-off grand slam to Xander Bogaerts one inning later as a 2-1 lead turned into a 6-2 loss Saturday at the hands of the Red Sox.

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Rowley was charged with the loss, but the bases-loaded mess was not entirely of his own making. With one out, Mookie Betts hit a routine grounder to shortstop that snuck under the glove of Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who was charged with an error. Brock Holt followed with a single, and J.D. Martinez was intentionally walked as Bogaerts stepped to the plate with one out and put an end to the game with a deep shot over the Green Monster.

"We battled," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Naturally, it's disappointing. You work so hard to get to that ninth inning. Back-to-back doubles. Clipp was in a jam, and he got out of it. Kept it tied. The one time we finally get Betts out, we don't make the play. They gutted it out. Great job, really all of them. [Sam] Gaviglio giving us a start on short rest. It's tough, but we couldn't really mount much offense, either."

Prior to Clippard and Rowley's appearances, the Blue Jays' relievers had been on a roll. In this series alone, Toronto's bullpen had tossed 15 innings and allowed just one run, on 10 hits and two walks, while striking out 15. Toronto's rotation has tossed just 11 2/3 innings over the club's last four games, which led to the high workload for the relievers. Those numbers dipped significantly following the late-inning collapse.

Gaviglio made this start on just two days' rest as he filled in for Marco Estrada, who was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday with a strained left glute. Gaviglio wasn't expected to pitch deep into the game, but he managed to give the Blue Jays 3 1/3 innings before handing it over to the bullpen. Gaviglio's lone blemish was the fourth-inning solo homer by Martinez, who came through with his 29th home run of the season, tied with Cleveland's Jose Ramirez for most in baseball.

Video: TOR@BOS: Gaviglio freezes Bogaerts for the strikeout

The Blue Jays then used three relievers, who combined for 4 2/3 innings, to bridge the gap to Clippard in the ninth inning. Tim Mayza, Luis Santos and Joe Biagini allowed just four hits and two walks over that span, but any momentum the club had came to a halt when Clippard took the mound in the ninth. Clippard was charged with his fifth blown save, while his record dropped to 4-4.

"This team is pretty good, obviously," catcher Luke Maile said. "They make you work. If you make mistakes, they make you pay for it. We held them in check for pretty much the duration of the game, just couldn't quite come away with it. I was impressed overall. One, two, three-run leads, it just seems like they're never enough with these guys."

Gurriel, who was not available to speak with the media after the game, had an afternoon filled with highs and lows. On the positive side, Gurriel matched a career high with three hits, including an RBI single, and he now has at least two hits in each of his last four games. On the downside, he continues to struggle on defense, with errors in each of his last two games, and six in 34 games this season.

The 24-year-old also was involved in a scary collision at first base with Boston's Eduardo Rodriguez in the top of the sixth inning. As Gurriel was sliding head-first into the bag, Rodriguez tried to jump over him but instead accidentally kicked the side of Gurriel's head. Rodriguez left the game with an ankle injury and while Gurriel stayed in, the latter was in the trainer's room for a lengthy period of time postgame. It was not immediately clear whether it was injury related.

Video: TOR@BOS: Rodriguez leaves the game with ankle injury

"Everybody's going to make errors," Gibbons said. "The best players of all time, they made their share of errors. It's part of it. It's magnified at certain times, but [Gurriel] has been doing a great job offensively and defensively. Can't worry about that."

SOUND SMART
Gurriel became the first Blue Jays rookie since Adam Lind in 2006 to have at least four consecutive multi-hit games. He's tied with Yangervis Solarte and Maile for the longest streak of multi-hit games by a Blue Jays player this season.

Video: TOR@BOS: Gurriel Jr. plates Smith Jr. with a single

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Gurriel, shortstop Aledmys Diaz and left fielder Teoscar Hernandez combined to pull off a unique double play in the bottom of the seventh. With a runner on first, Sandy Leon lifted a lazy fly ball to left, and Blake Swihart lost track of the ball on his way to second base. Gurriel and Diaz took advantage of the situation, pretending to start turning a double play, which almost caused Swihart to slide into second base. He was then slow to react after the ball had actually been caught by Hernandez, who made an easy throw to first to double off Swihart and end the inning.

Video: TOR@BOS: Gurriel Jr. and Diaz fake out Swihart on DP

"Both of those guys, they grew up in Cuba man, they know baseball," Gibbons said. "They know all the ins and outs of it. Great throw by Teo from where he was. A lot of good things happened today, it really did. We'll show up tomorrow and then take a nice four days off. I can guarantee you that."

UP NEXT
Right-hander Marcus Stroman (2-6, 5.90 ERA) will get the call in Toronto's final game before the All-Star break. Stroman is set to take the mound for the conclusion of the Blue Jays' four-game series against the Red Sox, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. Stroman allowed just one run over seven strong innings during his last start against Atlanta. Boston will counter with left-hander Brian Johnson (1-2, 4.23).

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

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