The Red Sox have the phrases memorized by now. There are a lot of games left and no team has run away with the division. Proven players are bound to get hot. They’re a good week away from getting back in the race.
But with each day that passes, the words become more transparent and the reality of the situation sets in. Never was that more the case than on Wednesday night.
The Chicago Cubs, a team eager to make trades and start over next season, finished off a three-game sweep of the Sox with a 16-9 victory.
The game lasted 4 hours and 19 minutes, the longest nine-inning game in the majors this season.
“It was a rough night from the mound,” manager John Farrell said.
The Cubs hit four home runs, battering Brandon Workman and five relievers for 19 hits in all. Chicago scored six runs in the ninth inning, sending 10 batters to the plate.
Chicago president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, the former Red Sox general manager, was not at Fenway because of family matters. He missed seeing the Cubs sweep their first series at the ballpark since the 1915 team took four games from the Boston Braves.
The Cubs outscored the Sox, 20-10, in the series. Justin Ruggiano was 3 for 6 with a homer, a double, and five RBIs for the Cubs.
The Sox collected 16 hits off five Chicago pitchers but left 14 runners on base and were 4 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
Dustin Pedroia was 3 for 5 with a walk and an RBI for the Sox. Brock Holt also had three hits, while Mookie Betts was 2 for 5 with his first career home run. David Ortiz was 2 for 4 with two doubles.
Another rookie, Xander Bogaerts, was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts and is hitless in his last 23 at-bats.
“I will say a number of really positive things offensively,” Farrell said. “Particularly the top half of the order . . . but still not enough to come back from the deficit.”
At 38-47, the Red Sox are only a game ahead of last-place Tampa Bay in the American League East. At nine games under .500, they have matched their low point of the season.
Yet Farrell expressed hope.
“Bigger picture is still confident in our guys,” he said. “This is a one-game situation and from the mound it got away from us . . . There’s I think very solid pitching and defense inside our building right now and yet we’ve got to look to continue to lengthen out our lineup.”
Reminded that the standings would seem to tell a much different story, Farrell didn’t flinch.
“There’s a full half-season to go here,” he said. “We recognize fully where we are in the standings and what our record indicates. We’ve got to continue to work at that.”
Workman (1-2) had the worst start of his career, giving up six runs on five hits and three walks over just four innings.
“I didn’t pitch very well at all,” he said. “I just wasn’t sharp.”
Workman nearly didn’t survive the first inning as he allowed three runs and threw 30 pitches. The Sox had Felix Doubront warming up as the inning finally ended.
Chris Coghlan started the game with a walk before Ruggiano drilled a home run off the AAA sign above the Monster Seats. That seemed fitting given the Red Sox could use a tow truck to pull their season out of the ditch.
Anthony Rizzo walked, stole second, and scored on a single by Starlin Castro.
Welington Castillo walked in the fourth inning before former University of Connecticut star Mike Olt hit a mammoth home run to left-center.
The next hitter, Darwin Barney, lined a ball off the wall in left-center. Betts came in too close and the ball went over his head for a triple. Coghlan’s sacrifice fly gave the Cubs a 6-1 lead.
“I started using my breaking ball a lot more in the second and third, and in the fourth it looked like they kind of sat on it,” Workman said. “I wasn’t able to do anything to stop them from doing it.”
Workman has allowed 10 runs on 12 hits — four of them home runs — over 11 innings in his last two starts.
Doubront, who has taken the bumpy road from No. 3 starter to mopup man, started the fifth inning. He allowed three runs in his 1⅓ innings.
Until Wednesday, Red Sox pitchers had allowed three runs or fewer in 14 consecutive home games.
The Red Sox drove Cubs starter Travis Wood off the mound in the fourth inning.
Pedroia started the third inning with a single and took third on a double to right field by Ortiz. It was the 1,000th career extra-base hit for Ortiz. He is only the 36th player to reach that plateau, the third active along with Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez.
Jonny Gomes had a sacrifice fly in that inning and an RBI single in the fourth. The Sox loaded the bases in that inning but reliever Carlos Villanueva struck out Bogaerts looking at a slider to end the threat.
A.J. Pierzynski drew a rare walk in the fifth inning and scored when Betts hit his first career home run, a blast to the back row of the Monster Seats.
Betts hammered the ball but ran around the bases so fast he was right behind Pierzynski at the plate.
“I don’t think I’m a home run hitter, so any time I hit it I take off sprinting,” Betts said.
The Sox scored three runs in the ninth inning. But that hardly mattered.
“Ugly night,” Workman said.