OAKLAND, Calif. — Bobby Valentine met with reporters for about three minutes on Tuesday night after Athletics beat the Red Sox, 3-2, with two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning for the team’s third walkoff loss in six games.
He was drumming his fingers on the desk in his small office as the interview started. By the end, Valentine was pounding a blue marker pen into the desk with enough force it nearly shattered.
“I don’t like to lose. That’s what bothers me the most,” Valentine said as he stared at a wall.
As the season reached its midpoint, the 42-39 Sox had one of their most painful losses of the year. They took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning before sloppy play cost them a chance to gain a game in the standings.
Alfredo Aceves (0-6) took the loss. But there was plenty of blame to go around after a poorly played game.
Ryan Kalish singled off Jerry Blevins and Mike Aviles walked to start the top of the ninth inning. Nick Punto was next in an obvious bunting situation.
But he popped the ball up to first baseman Chris Carter, who threw to Jemile Weeks covering first base for a double play.
“Standard play. I just didn’t get the bunt down. Simple fundamental. Can’t make those mistakes,” said Punto, whose value to the team is supposed to be the ability to play small ball.
Valentine was angry about the lack of execution.
“We had first and second, no outs in the top of the ninth. That’s where the game was lost,” he said. “You can’t bunt into a double play there. That’s simple. We’ve got our best bunter on the team up. He’s got to be able to bunt the ball and get the guys over.”
Kalish was then thrown out trying to steal third. He had the throw beat but Brandon Inge had the bag blocked with his leg and Kalish was called out to end the inning.
“I wasn’t expecting a steal. If I don’t want him to go, I better hold him,” Valentine said. “They blocked the base on him. He had it stolen easy. Good play on their part, part play on ours.
Kalish thought he was safe.
“Sometimes that’s just the way it goes,” he said. “I thought I got in there.”
The bottom of the inning was even worse.
Carter led off with a single before Cliff Pennington singled with one out.
Pinch hitter Brandon Moss singled up the middle to score Carter with the tying run. Pennington went to third and Moss to second when Kalish overran the ball in center.
The error proved huge when Coco Crisp delivered a sacrifice fly to center field.
“I’ve got to play better defense,” Kalish said. “That’s the bottom line. When I get called up, that’s what I need to do the best of and right now I’m just not doing that.”
Kalish has looked rusty in the outfield since joining the Sox, likely the result of his missing most of last season with injuries.
“I don’t know. No excuses,” he said. “That’s something I have to bring to the park every day.”
Aceves has blown four saves in 23 attempts. Until he came on, the Red Sox pitching was terrific. Jon Lester allowed one run on four hits in 6⅔ innings. He struck out nine, matching his season high.
Oakland loaded the bases in the eighth inning against Vicente Padilla. Kurt Suzuki reached on an error by shortstop Mike Aviles before Crisp singled. A bunt by Weeks moved the runners over.
The Sox intentionally walked Josh Reddick to load the bases with one out. Padilla then struck out Yoenis Cespedes and Jonny Gomes swinging at fastballs, 94 miles per hour for Cespedes and 95 for Gomes.
The Sox had seven hits, six of them singles, and were 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position. They are hitting .215 on the road trip and have scored either one or two runs in every game except one. They are 4 for 42 with runners in scoring position.
“Not stringing the hits together,” Valentine said. “We will tomorrow.”
The Sox are 2-4 on a trip the ends this afternoon with Aaron Cook on the mound.
Oakland activated Bartolo Colon off the disabled list to make the start. The hefty 39-year-old righthander had not pitched since June 17 because of a strained muscle on his right side.
Colon pitched well in three appearances against the Red Sox last season when he was with the Yankees, allowing five earned runs over 15 innings. He was effective again, giving up two runs (one earned) over six innings and 87 pitches.
Down 1-0, the Red Sox tied the score when Jarrod Saltalamacchia homered to right field in the second inning. He blasted a high changeup for his 16th homer of the season in 209 at-bats. Saltalamacchia had 16 homers in 358 at-bats all of last season.
The Sox manufactured a run in the fourth inning. David Ortiz, a career .130 hitter against Colon over 46 at-bats, singled to right field, Ortiz then went to third on a single by Adrian Gonzalez.
The single gave Gonzalez a 14-game hit streak. It’s the longest active streak in the majors and ties Gonzalez for the longest streak on the Red Sox this season with Dustin Pedroia.
With two outs, Saltalamacchia hit a sharp grounder to the right side. Carter, the first baseman, tried to make a backhand play and the ball deflected off his glove and into right field as Ortiz scored.
Carter was given an error on the play as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PeteAbe.