Red Sox lose late lead, Orioles rally for 6-4 win
BOSTON (AP) — The reeling Boston Red Sox blew another late lead and lost for the 14th time in 18 games, booed by fans at Fenway Park after Vladimir Guerrero and the Baltimore Orioles rallied for a 6-4 win Wednesday night.
Boston began the day with a two-game edge over Tampa Bay for the AL wild-card spot. The Rays lost the opener of a day-night doubleheader to the New York Yankees 4-2.
Ace Josh Beckett took the mound, hoping to put some distance between Boston and the Rays. Beckett (13-6) allowed just one hit through five innings as the Red Sox built a 4-1 lead.
But Beckett allowed a run in the sixth and two more in the seventh on Mark Reynolds' second homer that tied the game.
In the eighth, Beckett gave up a single to J.J. Hardy and a double by Nick Markakis. Alfredo Aceves relieved with runners at second and third, then gave up Guerrero's hard, two-run single to center field.
One night before Boston's best starter faltered, star closer Jonathan Papelbon blew a save chance for only the second time this season when he gave up a three-run double to Robert Andino in the eighth that gave Baltimore a 7-5 win.
The Boston collapse has come after it led Tampa Bay by nine games on Sept. 3.
The Red Sox have six games left, all on the road — three at Yankee Stadium and three at Baltimore. Tampa Bay has seven remaining — four against the Yankees and three against Toronto.
And the Los Angeles Angels are sneaking up. They're just 2½ games behind Boston after beating Toronto 7-2 on Wednesday.
Clay Rapada (2-0) got the win and Jim Johnson earned his ninth save in 14 chances — his third in as many days against Boston. He pitched a perfect ninth and, after Jed Lowrie made the final out on a soft grounder to Johnson, the fans booed.
Carl Crawford had a single, double and triple for Boston and drove in two runs.
Reynolds hit a solo homer in the second before Boston tied the game in the third on a triple by Crawford and an RBI groundout by Jason Varitek.
Crawford gave the Red Sox a 3-1 lead in the fourth with a two-run double after a single by Adrian Gonzalez and a double by Dustin Pedroia. Consecutive singles by Mike Aviles, Gonzalez and David Ortiz made it 4-1 in the fifth against Tommy Hunter, who left the game with two outs in the seventh with a strained right groin.
The Orioles added a run in the sixth when Andino singled, stole second and scored on a single by Hardy. They tied it in the seventh when Matt Wieters singled and was forced out at second on a grounder by Adam Jones before Reynolds hit his 36th homer of the season — his second of the game over the Green Monster in left field.
NOTES: Reynolds tied a career-high with two homers in a game. It was the fifth time he did it this season and the 12th time in his career. ... After a day off on Thursday, the Red Sox begin a season-ending six-game road trip with Jon Lester (15-8) facing the New York Yankees in the opener of a three-game series on Friday night. Boston finishes the season with a three-game series in Baltimore starting Monday. ... With two hits, Gonzalez passed Mo Vaughn for the most hits in a season by a Red Sox first baseman. Gonzalez has 208, one more than Vaughn had in 1996. ... Jacoby Ellsbury got a hit for his 33rd consecutive game against Baltimore. It's the longest hitting streak against the Orioles franchise and the longest by a Red Sox player against any team.