ARLINGTON, Texas — The Red Sox were trailing the Texas Rangers by two runs in the seventh inning on Saturday night. But they had runners at second and third and Dustin Pedroia at the plate.
Pedroia grounded a ball into the hole at first base. First baseman Mitch Moreland ranged over to make the play and fed pitcher Tanner Scheppers for the final out of the inning.
The Sox went on to lose, 5-1, before a sold-out crowd of 47,173 at Rangers Ballpark. The Sox have scored one run on 13 hits in the last two games.
For the first time all season, the team with the best record in baseball is wobbling.
Pedroia is hitless in his last 14 at-bats and has six extra-base hits all season. The Red Sox are the only team in the American League without a home run out of the No. 3 position in the order.
“I’m OK. Good hitters get hits, man,” said Pedroia, who has hit third in every game. “We’ll be all right.”
The Rangers have the lowest earned run average in the league at 3.02. They have shown why against the Sox. A night after they were shut out by Derek Holland and Derek Lowe, the Sox had seven hits against Alexi Ogando (3-2) and three relievers.
They left nine runners on base and were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position.
Next up for the Sox is Texas ace Yu Darvish on Sunday.
But Pedroia wasn’t buying into the idea that the Sox should be concerned.
“It’s a couple of games. We’ll be all right. Everything is going to be OK. Calm the you-know-what down, OK?” he said.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia took the same attitude.
“It’s two games,” he said. “Two games on the road against a good team. It’s nothing to get carried away with. But we need to come out of here with a win.”
Red Sox starter John Lackey, who grew up a few hours away in Abilene, largely kept the Sox in the game. But Lackey (1-2) allowed three runs in five innings to take the loss.
Ian Kinsler hit Lackey’s first pitch, a belt-high fastball, into the seats in left field. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury broke in on the ball then motioned for Daniel Nava to take it. As Nava looked up searching for the ball, it landed in the seats.
It was the second leadoff home run by Kinsler against Lackey. The first came on April 2, 2011.
Kinsler is 15 of 35 with four home runs against Lackey in his career. On May 16, 2009, when he was with the Angels, Lackey was ejected after throwing his first pitch behind Kinsler’s head and then hitting him with his next pitch.
The Sox ended a streak of 13 consecutive scoreless innings in the second. David Ortiz led off with a double and scored on a one-out single to center field by Nava.
Ortiz has hit safely in all 12 games he has played this season. He has a 24-game hit streak dating to July 2.
Ortiz’s 306-day hit streak is a rarity. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it’s the second-longest hit streak on the calendar of at least 20 games since at least 1900. Nomar Garciaparra had a 21-game streak from Sept. 10, 2000 to July 29, 2001. That was 322 days.
Ortiz also has at least one extra-base hit in nine of his last 10 games. He was 1 for 4 Saturday but two of his outs were fly balls caught on the warning track.
The Rangers took a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning thanks to poor control by Lackey and a defensive mistake.
With one out, Lackey walked Adrian Beltre. A.J. Pierzynski followed with a single to left. Moreland walked with two outs to load the bases. Craig Gentry grounded a ball behind the bag at third.
Will Middlebrooks, who has a strong arm, made a low throw and Mike Napoli could not come up with the bounce. Two runs scored as the ball rolled away. Gentry was credited with a single and an error was charged to Middlebrooks for allowing the second run to score.
It was the third error in two games for Middlebrooks.
“I got caught in between and tried to make the throw as quickly as I could because [Gentry] has good speed,” Middlebrooks said. “It was a tough play but I have to make it.”
Lackey did not allow another run and left after five innings trailing, 3-1. After three starts he has a 3.52 ERA.
“Gave us everything he had,” manager John Farrell said. “Kept us in the ballgame through the five innings of work.”
Andrew Miller and Junichi Tazawa each pitched a scoreless inning in relief. The game got away from the Sox in the eighth inning when Moreland singled off Koji Uehara and Gentry homered to left field.
It was the first home run of the season for Gentry, who drove in three runs. Uehara spent the previous two seasons with the Rangers.
The Sox left runners in scoring position in five innings. It made for some frustration.
“We could have scored a few more runs,” said Saltalamacchia, who was stranded in the fourth after a double. “They’ve pitched well and we missed some chances.
The Sox are 6-15 at Rangers Ballpark over the last five seasons, 2-8 in the last two years.