Bullpen spoils Millwood's outing

Bullpen spoils Millwood's outing

BOSTON -- The Rangers clubhouse was deathly quiet after Sunday's afternoon's 6-5 loss to the Red Sox, with stunned players sitting in silence and staring off into space.

In the manager's office, Ron Washington summed up what happened.

"It's obvious we're not afraid of the Boston Red Sox," Washington said. "We just have to learn how to put ballgames away. We had them beat twice, and we let them get away. We've got to learn how to put ballgames away -- whether that's getting hits, whether that's playing defense or whether that's pitching. We can play with anybody. We just have to put ballgames away late."

The Rangers didn't win on Sunday afternoon at Fenway Park, even though they led 5-0 after six innings. Instead, disaster struck. Total disaster.

The Red Sox rallied for two runs in the seventh and four more in the eighth to stun the Rangers. It was Boston's third straight over Texas and second time in a row the Sox prevailed despite trailing going into the bottom of the eighth inning.

All four runs in Sunday's eighth inning came home after Wes Littleton retired the first two hitters. C.J. Wilson, allowing his first two runs of the season, suffered his first blown save without getting anybody out, and the Rangers have now lost eight of their last 10 games.

"This is a rough one, that's for sure," shortstop Michael Young said. "Up, 5-0, you think the game is well in hand. With the back of our bullpen, we thought the game was locked down. You have to give them credit, but at the same time, we've got to shut that game down.

"We've got to find away to win that game instead of the other way around."

For most of the day, it appeared as if the biggest play of the day was Manny Ramirez getting ejected by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel in the second inning. But that didn't prove to be as big as when Rangers first baseman Ben Broussard held the ball while Jed Lowrie scored from second base on an infield hit in the eighth.

"That was huge," Washington said.

Rangers starter Kevin Millwood, trying to find a way to win away from Arlington, appeared ready to snap what remains a personal nine-game road losing streak, which is tied with Jamie Moyer and Don Stanhouse for the longest in club history. He was nine outs away from doing it, but the bullpen faltered.

"It's frustrating for the team not to get that win, especially with C.J. in there," Millwood said. "We were feeling good about things the whole game, and for that to happen, it stinks. There's not much you can say."

Millwood went out for the seventh with a 5-0 lead, but he was pulled from the game after giving up a double to Lowrie and an RBI single to David Ortiz. Littleton took over, but hit Joe Thurston, a utility infielder just called up from the Minors who was thrust into the game when Ramirez was ejected. Littleton got Kevin Youkilis to hit into a double play, but J.D. Drew's single brought home a second run.

The Rangers still led, 5-2, and Littleton did get the first two hitters in the eighth. That left the Rangers with a three-run lead with four outs to go. Then it all fell apart.

Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a single and scored on Lowrie's double. That's when Washington brought in Wilson to face Ortiz for a lefty vs. lefty matchup. Left-handed hitters were 0-for-5 against Wilson before that at-bat, which turned out to be the biggest of the game.

Wilson got ahead, 2-2, but couldn't put Ortiz away. Instead, Ortiz fouled off a couple of tough fastballs.

"For the last couple of weeks, guys were popping that pitch up," Wilson said. "He fouls them off."

Ortiz then hit a grounder toward the hole on the right side. Second baseman Ian Kinsler made a sliding stop in the outfield grass and threw to first. But Ortiz beat the throw.

Broussard thought he was out. He was wrong. He also never picked up Lowrie, who came all the way around from second base to score.

"I got caught up in the play," Broussard said. "I thought we had the out, and I was running off the field. Then I saw he was safe and I turned and said, 'What the...' Then I turned around, and the guy was sliding into home. A rookie play. Regardless of what happens, I have to be aware of the runner, and I didn't do it. No other excuses."

Washington said Lowrie would have been an easy out if Broussard had made the throw the ball to catcher Gerald Laird.

"We would have blown him up," Washington said. "Gerald would have been sitting there waiting for him."

Dustin Pedroia, pinch-hitting for Thurston, followed with a double to right-center to bring Ortiz home with the tying run. Youkilis was walked intentionally, but Wilson followed that with full-count walks to Drew and Sean Casey to force in the winning run.

"The walks were the problem," Wilson said. "I just ran out of strikes. My [sinking fastball] was moving a lot today, and it hadn't been moving all year. I was just too far down. I wasn't accurate with my fastball."

Jamey Wright was needed to get the third out, but the damage was done and the disaster was complete.

"We had the right guy [Wilson] facing the right guy [Ortiz]," Washington said. "Thirty-something pitches later, we still don't have that one out. We've got to learn to put a game away. Once we'll do that, we'll be fine."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.