BOSTON -- Inconsistency continues to be Eduardo Rodriguez's biggest nemesis. Five days after his best start of the season, the lefty was sluggish early and the Red Sox never recovered, falling, 5-3, to the Athletics.It was the second straight loss for the Sox at the start of this seven-game homestand,
BOSTON -- Inconsistency continues to be Eduardo Rodriguez's biggest nemesis. Five days after his best start of the season, the lefty was sluggish early and the Red Sox never recovered, falling, 5-3, to the Athletics.
It was the second straight loss for the Sox at the start of this seven-game homestand, as they slipped to one game behind the Yankees in the American East.
Boston threatened against A's closer Blake Treinen in the bottom of the ninth, putting runners on second and third with nobody out, but the Sox scored just once.
The game started an hour and 42 minutes late due to a rain delay, but it didn't slow down the Athletics, who jumped on Rodriguez for two in the top of the first.
"A lot of foul balls, a lot of quality at-bats," Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. "Early in the season, it was more about [Rodriguez] being inconsistent in the strike zone, but not right now. They've been able to foul pitches off and then put good swings on some of them and put them in play."
In an emotional moment for the Athletics, Stephen Piscotty homered in his first at-bat back with the team after being on the bereavement list to mourn the death of his mother, Gretchen, who died last week after battling ALS. That solo shot in the second made it 3-0.
Rodriguez (3-1, 4.68 ERA) did settle down enough to go five innings while allowing just those three early runs. He walked none and struck out four while throwing 98 pitches.
"He's been trying to go in, trying to go up with the changeup, the cutter, it's been tough. One thing about him, he competed, he kept going for how tough it was in the beginning," Cora said. "He was able to give us five. That pitch count is getting up in a hurry and it's not because he's not attacking the strike zone, it's because he hasn't been able to put them away, you know what I mean?"
What does Rodriguez think he needs to do to start putting hitters away?
"I don't know, I just think I need to keep the ball more down in the zone, because I was getting a lot of 0-2 counts and go to 3-2 and then battle for like seven pitches and then get the out or something like that," Rodriguez said. "So I need to work on putting guys out quicker than that."
After Rodriguez settled down, the Red Sox looked primed for a comeback, getting one in the fourth and another in the fifth on a solo rocket by Andrew Benintendi into the bleachers in right, slicing the deficit to 3-2.
However, the momentum to be short-lived. The Boston bats were quieted over the next couple of innings, and the A's added two insurance runs in the eighth on a double by Mark Canha against lefty Bobby Poyner.
Those runs were both charged to Steven Wright, who went 2 1/3 innings in his return from a 15-game suspension, allowing two hits and three walks.
The Red Sox are 1-4 against the Athletics this season and 27-10 against all other teams.
"We haven't been able to put them away. How many two-out runs today? Four, I think it was," said Cora. "Same deal yesterday. They're young and it seems like they're turning a corner. Whatever they're doing over there is pretty good."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Benintendi runs into an out: Though Benintendi swung the bat well in this one (3-for-5), he made a costly out on the bases in the bottom of the first, straying too far off third base on an infield hit by Xander Bogaerts. Instead of having the bases loaded with the hot-hitting Mitch Moreland due up, the inning ended on Benitendi's mistake. Over the last two seasons, Benintendi has been prone to running into outs and so have the Red Sox as a team.
"I'm just looking for answers. In that play, there's nothing you can do. He's anticipating a play, it's a slow roller, [even for] an average runner, there's not going to be a play at first," Cora said. "I don't know if he thought Chapman was going to throw on the run to first, but you've just got to be careful, you've got to be smart in that situation. It's bases loaded, two outs and I don't think there's a chance to score on that play.
"We'll go back and talk to them and keep working. I've been saying this every night. That's not good. But hopefully they get it and they'll understand there's a value of outs and it's very important. We'll keep preaching that."
A's starter Daniel Mengden accomplished a rare feat for a right-handed starter by beating the Red Sox. Righty starters are just 2-17 in 32 starts against Boston this year. The Sox are 23-9 in those games.
HE SAID IT
"It was good, that was what we needed. You start wondering now how this is going to play. That he was able to give us those outs after Eddie, you saw those swings, not very comfortable at-bats. Now we've got to see when he can bounce back and when we can use him again, but for today, that was a good first step for him and for us to see him in that role, and what he did, that's a good sign." -- Cora, on the value Wright might be able to provide as a reliever
Ace Chris Sale, fresh off his most powerful start of the season (15 K's, 0 BB's in a no decision against the Blue Jays), draws the start in Wednesday's series finale against the Athletics as the Red Sox try to avoid being swept at home for the first time this season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET. This is the last of six meetings between the teams this season. In nine career starts against Oakland, Sale is 4-3 with a 2.35 ERA. Oakland will counter with Trevor Cahill, who is coming off the DL after missing one start because of a right elbow impingement.
Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.