Joe Kelly

Closing Time: Red Sox return to losing ways, drop another to Braves

Rob Bradford
June 17, 2015 - 6:20 pm

So much for a winning streak. The Red Sox fell back to 11 games under .500 once again with a 5-2 loss to the Braves, Wednesday night. The Sox have now lost eight of their last nine games, and two of three against Atlanta in its home and home set. They also find themselves nine back in the American League East. This time the Red Sox fell victim to a methodical Braves attack on the scorching hot night, with Atlanta ultimately pulling away thanks to a two-run seventh inning. In the seventh, Junichi Tazawa fell victim to a one-out, infield hit by Cameron Maybin, who would move to third on rookie Daniel Castro's hit-and-run grounder into right field. Nick Markakis managed the eventual game-winner, placing a single into left. Making the inning more frustrating for the Red Sox was that Maybin's hit should have probably been an out, with Mike Napoli unable to catch a toss from Xander Bogaerts, who raced in and fielded the ball bare-handed. The throw appeared to hit off of the first baseman's wrist on the fly and symbolized the inability by the Red Sox to make key plays when it counted the most. "I was just trying to stretch as far as I could," Napoli told reporters. "He's a quick runner." More unforgivable for the Red Sox was how the Braves scored their second run in the seventh, with Tommy Layne coming on and walking the seemingly unwalkable A.J. Pierzynski. It was the first time the catcher has walked twice in a game since 2012, and just the second occasion in the past five seasons. It also marked the third time Pierzynski has walked with the bases loaded for his career. The Braves added one more in the eighth, with Maybin singling in Jonny Gomes. That run came against reliever Craig Breslow. Red Sox manager John Farrell wasn't able to stick around for the entirety of the game, getting tossed by umpire Larry Vanover after arguing a Pedro Ciriaco checked swing with two outs in the seventh inning. Earlier in the game Farrell had come out on the field to argue with Vanover on a play at first base involving Mookie Betts, with the manager having already used his challenge. WHAT WENT WRONG -- The Red Sox pitchers once again struggled after being handed runs. This time they allowed the Braves plate a run in the bottom half of every frame the Sox scored in. -- Pedro Ciriaco first did damage against his old team in the fourth inning, notching a two-out RBI double for the hosts' first run. The former Red Sox then tied it for his team in the sixth, with a single just out of the reach of shortstop Xander Bogaerts. -- The bullpen couldn't save Red Sox starter Joe Kelly in the sixth inning after the righty allowed a walk to Markakis and Juan Uribe walk to start the frame. Robbie Ross Jr. did his job, getting the next two outs, but Alexi Ogando would surrender the Ciriaco hit to close out the starting pitcher's line. -- Blake Swihart fanned three times, while Dustin Pedroia went 0-for-5. Pedroia said after the game his injured knee remains somewhat an issue. "I felt alright," he told reporters. "A little sore. My knee is pretty swollen, but it'€™s one of those things where I went out, took BP, ran around and feels good then, but then game time is a little different. I just have to get the inflammation out, ice it, things like that. It will be fine. It'€™s a little difficult landing on it, I got a leg kick when I hit, but no worries. I'€™ll be fine." -- The Red Sox didn't have any luck with their pinch-hitting for the pitcher, with Rusney Castillo grounding out and David Ortiz fly out to left field. WHAT WENT RIGHT -- Joe Kelly turned in a solid performance, albeit not a long one. The Sox starter left with nobody out in the sixth inning and his team carrying a 2-1 lead. His final line would hand him with two runs on five hits, striking out three and walking three while throwing 103 pitches. In three of his last four starts, Kelly has allowed two runs or less. "I felt pretty good," Kelly told reporters. "My body felt good. My stuff felt good. A couple walks here and there that got irrated at but overall I threw the ball where I wanted to all night." -- Kelly showed his athleticism in contributing to the Red Sox' first run. The former high school outfielder beat out a two-out grounder up the middle in the fourth inning, allowing Hanley Ramirez to score. -- Napoli, who said after notching two hits Tuesday he still wasn't totally comfortable with his approach at the plate, handed the visitors their second lead of the night with a one-out, solo homer over the center field wall. It was the first baseman's 10th homer of the season. "I've been feeling a little bit, timing wise and seeing the ball better," Napoli told reporters. "I'm just trying to go up there and give a tough at-bat every time. I don't know. I still have work to do. I've just got to try and keep it going." -- Brock Holt raised his batting average to .314 with two more hits.