The ability to quickly forget a poor outing is crucial in the pressure-packed world of a major league closer and the perpetually ebullient Koji Uehara has mastered that skill.
In those rare moments when he has stumbled during his two seasons with the Red Sox, Uehara has been able to laugh it with off with a promise to be better the next time.
That changed on Tuesday night. Like many of the veteran players still on the roster, Uehara is tired of losing while the Red Sox audition rookies for next season. That a 4-3 setback against the Los Angeles Angels was his fault only darkened his mood further.
Uehara entered a tie game in the ninth inning and got two quick outs. Brennan Boesch then ripped a hanging splitter to center field. The ball got to the triangle and the Sox were fortunate it bounced into the stands for a ground-rule double.
Chris Iannetta got ahead in the count and lined another high splitter off the wall in left field for his second double of the game, driving in Boesch.
Uehara (5-3) has allowed two runs on four hits in his last two outings. He had not been scored on in the 13 outings prior to that.
“The movement wasn’t there,” Uehara said. “I didn’t have that drop.”
The 39-year-old Uehara has been leaned on heavily by the Red Sox since his arrival. But he said he still feels strong and that wasn’t to blame for the two doubles.
Once his answer was translated, Uehara looked at group of reporters.
“OK?” he said before walking away.
The 56-69 Red Sox have lost four of their last five games and are on a pace to finish with 72 wins a year after they won the World Series.
“This stuff. It’s just hard when you’re older and used to winning,” said David Ortiz, who was 2 for 3 with a home run and two walks but watched yet another visiting team celebrate at Fenway.
The Sox tried to rally against Huston Street in the bottom of the inning. Yoenis Cespedes pinch hit and singled to left. Brock Holt bunted him to second.
Dustin Pedroia struck out. The Angels then intentionally walked Ortiz, to get to Mike Napoli.
Napoli has hit well against his former team and in situations when Ortiz has been intentionally walked ahead of him. But he struck out.
The Red Sox were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position and are 1 for 27 over the last three games. Joe Smith (5-1) pitched an inning for the win and the save was Street’s 10th.
The two starters, Allen Webster and Jered Weaver, had faced each other on Aug. 8 in Anaheim. The Red Sox won that game as Webster allowed two runs over 6⅔ innings.
Webster wasn’t quite as effective in the rematch but pitched well, giving up three runs over six innings.
All three runs came in the third inning. Iannetta led off with a double to left field and scored on a single to center by Kole Calhoun. The wondrous Mike Trout then blasted a slider to center. The ball banged off the wall and Trout sailed around the bases for his sixth triple of the season.
Albert Pujols drove in Trout with a sharp grounder to third base. Will Middlebrooks made a diving play and threw accurately to first base from the seat of his pants. Pujols was initially called out but was awarded a single after a video review by the umpires.
Webster allowed only one other hit. That came with one out in the fourth inning when David Freese hit a sinking liner to center field.
In the second inning, new center fielder Mookie Betts raced back to the fence alongside the Red Sox bullpen to take a home run away from Freese. But this time the inexperienced outfielder made a poorly timed dive at the ball and it bounced past him for a triple.
With the infield in, Webster struck out Boesch. He then walked Iannetta before getting Calhoun to ground to second.
For Betts, who until May was a second baseman, these moments are learning experiences. For the Sox, it’s more data to add into their offseason calculations.
“It’s a process. I’m learning. Some days are better than others,” Betts said. “Pretty much just got to get a better read.”
Weaver went 5⅓ innings, allowing three runs on seven hits.
Ortiz gave the Red Sox a 1-0 lead with an opposite-field home run into the Monster seats in the first inning. It was his 29th of the season and the 460th of his career.
Down, 3-1, the Sox tied the game with a run in the fifth and another in the sixth.
Pedroia singled with one out in the fifth. After Ortiz walked and a wild pitch moved the runners up, Napoli grounded to shortstop to drive in Pedroia.
Slumping Xander Bogaerts walked to start the sixth inning. Christian Vazquez, the rookie catcher who always seems to find a way to aid the offense, singled off the wall in left to move Bogaerts to third.
With Weaver at 109 pitches, the Angels called in Jason Grilli to face Holt. His sacrifice fly to center field tied it up.Peter Abraham can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @peteabe.