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Three more outs. Three runs ahead. No problem? Not for the 29 other teams, anyway. The Boston Red Sox were in that exact position Thursday, but gave up a four-run 9th inning to Toronto, blowing the game 6-5. Both teams jostled for positioning during the first two innings, until the Red Sox got their first two batters on in the 3rd. Jacoby Ellsbury stole 3rd and Jed Lowrie took 2nd on the double steal following that; both runners later scored on a sac fly and a single.
Ahead 2-1 in the 5th, the Sox added some spice to the mix, in the form of homers from Jed Lowrie and David Ortiz to go up 4-1. Each team put up another run on the board as the game progressed, leading to a 5-2 Sox lead going into the bottom of the 9th. John Lackey had only thrown 91 pitches to that point, so why not bring him back out? Seven pitches later, the league-leading home run leader, Jose Bautista, went yard for the 36th time this year, forcing Lackey out of the game in favor of Jonathan Papelbon.
Those of you who are squeamish might want to close your browser now, because things just get uglier from here. Vernon Wells, back from toe issues, doubled. Adam Lind singled to center off Papelbon, plating Wells. Aaron Hill hit Papelbon with a liner; Papelbon then lost track of the ball like Lindsay Lohan loses her inhibitions. Travis Snider struck out, but then Edwin Encarnacion doubled, putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with the Jays down by one. Papelbon then intentionally walked Lyle Overbay to set up the double play for Daniel Bard. But Fred Lewis flew out deep enough to score Aaron Hill on a sacrifice-off to complete another very difficult loss for Boston.
Lackey did everything he was supposed to do, and nearly got the complete game. In hindsight, he probably should have been left in the game to do so.
It was Game 3 against the Angels all over again.
W: Kevin Gregg (1-4)
L: Jonathan Papelbon (4-5)