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Sox can't cash in on scoring opportunities

MLB.com @IanMBrowne

SAN DIEGO -- For a team that leads the Majors Leagues in several of the most important categories, the Red Sox have lost a lot of games lately because of the inability to get the big hit in the late innings.

Monday's 2-1 defeat with the Padres was yet another one in which one big hit with runners in scoring position would have changed everything.

Full Game Coverage

SAN DIEGO -- For a team that leads the Majors Leagues in several of the most important categories, the Red Sox have lost a lot of games lately because of the inability to get the big hit in the late innings.

Monday's 2-1 defeat with the Padres was yet another one in which one big hit with runners in scoring position would have changed everything.

Full Game Coverage

It has been a recurring theme in the second half of the season, and magnified more on a day like this, when a victory would have put Boston back into a tie with the Blue Jays for first place in the American League East.

After winning the first two games of this nine-game road trip by scoring an aggregate 27 runs, the Sox have totaled one over the last two games -- both losses.

"It's the base hit with men in scoring position," said Red Sox manager John Farrell. "We've had 15 left on the last two days. On days where we've come up a run short, there's opportunities throughout the course of a ballgame that can change the storyline. But that's not the case today."

The first chance to change the storyline was in the top of the seventh, when Mookie Betts walked and Hanley Ramirez singled, and Edwin Jackson was finally in trouble.

But with first and second and nobody out, Jackie Bradley Jr. hit into a 4-6-3 double play. Yoan Moncada struck out. It was the 11th strikeout of the day for Jackson, who allowed four hits and no runs in his seven innings.

There would be another opportunity in the eighth. Chris Young gave the Red Sox a jolt by smashing a pinch-hit, solo homer to left to lead off the inning Brad Hand. Aaron Hill followed by ripping a double, and perhaps the comeback was finally in motion. Dustin Pedroia moved Hill to third on a grounder toward the middle, and Boston needed just a sacrifice fly to tie the game.

Sandy Leon came up as a pinch-hitter, and he swung and missed at strike three. As the ball rolled toward the backstop, Hill came racing home and thought he had the tying run. It turns out the pitch hit Leon on the leg, meaning it was a dead ball, and Hill had to retreat to third. Xander Bogaerts struck out looking and another opportunity was missed.

"I just thought it was down," said Bogaerts. "I looked back and saw [the catcher] him reach to the ground. The way he caught it, it definitely was a ball. That's what made me a bit frustrated. But it is what it is."

In the contest, the Red Sox were 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position.

There was one more moment of hope in the ninth when Ramirez had an excuse-me, infield hit when he wasn't even trying to swing. Bradley struck out for the second out, and the many Red Sox fans in the crowd at Petco Field roared when David Ortiz came on to pinch-hit for Moncada.

Not even Big Papi could save this one, as he flied out to left to end it, dropping Boston's record to 4-29 when scoring fewer than three runs.

"I kind of [stink] at pinch-hitting, right?" said Ortiz. "Look at my numbers, let me know tomorrow."

As a pinch-hitter this season, Ortiz is 2-for-7 with three walks. In his career, he's at .188 (18-for-96).

"They made good pitches, and we didn't score," said Pedroia. "This isn't a video game. We're trying to grind out at-bats and have good at-bats. Sometimes you can't get the big hit."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Boston Red Sox