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The adventures of Daniel Bard as a starting pitcher for the Boston Red Sox in 2012 continues. On Friday night, the erratic pitcher continued to miss the strike zone early against the Philadelphia Phillies in what ended up a 6-4 Red Sox loss. The Phillies’ offense walked all over Bard in the first, and from there, three Red Sox home runs weren’t enough as former Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon shut the door.
Bard allowed four runs in an awful first inning where his command was completely off. He allowed a leadoff walk to Jimmy Rollins, and then consecutive one out walks to Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. With the bases loaded, Carlos Ruiz singled to center, scoring two runs and giving the Phillies an early 2-0 lead.
A sacrifice fly from Ty Wigginton made it 3-0, and an RBI double by John Mayberry Jr. smoked down the left field line scored the fourth run. Bard threw 32 pitches in the inning, the most he had thrown in any inning all season long.
The Red Sox tried to claw their way back into the game against Cole Hamels, who entered the day 5-1 with a 2.28 ERA. Mike Aviles got the Sox offense started with a solo home run deep to left by the foul pole. It was his sixth home run of the season and it cut the Philadelphia lead to 4-1.
After a sacrifice fly by Daniel Nava in the fourth, Philadelphia responded in the fifth as Hunter Pence went deep off of Bard for the tenth time this season. Later in the inning, things got scary on a hit-by-pitch to Wigginton. A fastball in by Bard hit the batter and ricocheted off of the side of Sox catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s head. He went to the ground for a few minutes before leaving the game with what the team described as a laceration of his left ear.
One of the most disliked players in Philadelphia for his success in the 2010 NLCS, Cody Ross homered in the sixth off of Hamels to cut the lead again, as the Sox then trailed 5-3. In the eighth, Adrian Gonzalez came a day late on his guaranteed home run as he obliterated a ball deep to right field. Unfortunately, the Phillies regained their insurance run in the bottom half of the inning when Freddy Galvis also homered, setting the stage for Papelbon to attempt to close out his former team with a two-run lead.
The Red Sox are no strangers to dramatic ninth inning saves from Papelbon, and Friday was no different. A lead off line drive infield single to third allowed Kelly Shoppach, who came into the game for Saltalamacchia, to reach to begin the inning. A groundout moved him to second, with Marlon Byrd coming to the plate. Byrd hit a ground ball up the middle, but a ranging Rollins at shortstop scurried to the ball and fired to first, just barely getting Byrd.
Bobby Valentine immediately challenged the call, as it appeared the first baseman Wigginton may have come off the bag as Byrd raced past the bag. Valentine screamed and jumped up and down to first base umpire Gary Darling, earning an unquestionable ejection. The call however was debatable upon television replays showed Wigginton may indeed have stepped off of first.
With two outs an Shoppach now on third, Papelbon struck out Nick Punto on three pitches to end the game. He improves to 12-12 in saves this season for Philadelphia while Boston falls to 18-21.
Tags: Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox, Carlos Ruiz, Cody Ross, Cole Hamels, Daniel Bard, Hunter Pence, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Jimmy Rollins, Jonathan Papelbon, Mike Aviles, Philadelphia Phillies, Shane Victorino