BALTIMORE — That the Red Sox lost again was no surprise, that is what they've done for two seasons now. But Thursday night's 6-5 setback against the Baltimore Orioles was notable for reasons that went beyond the score.
Pitcher Wade Miley and manager John Farrell exchanged harsh words in the dugout at Camden Yards after the lefthander was taken out of the game following the fourth inning.
When Miley came off the field, Farrell told him he was done for the night after allowing five runs on nine hits. Miley reacted angrily, pointing out to the field then shouting at Farrell as he walked toward the runway leading to the clubhouse.
Farrell followed him down the stairs. The pitcher eventually returned to the dugout. At no point did the confrontation in the dugout become physical, and the two did not need to be separated.
Farrell was measured in his comments, saying he and Miley spoke after the game.
"He didn't want to come out of the game. That's his competitive spirit coming through," the manager said. "While he had good stuff, there were decent swings against him. Felt like we needed to make a move."
Most players are competitive, but few challenge the authority of their managers in full view of fans, teammates, and the television cameras. Those conversations usually happen in private.
"Well, again, kind of a heat of the moment thing," Farrell said.
Miley did not offer an apology, at least in public.
"It's between me and John. It is what it is," he said. "It's fine. It's over. Everything that happened is over. If you want to talk about the game, we can talk about the game."
Miley deserved to come out when he did, allowing at least one run in every inning he was on the mound. After giving up four home runs all season, the lefthander surrendered three against the Orioles.
Adam Jones homered in the first inning, a blast to left field. In the second inning, singles by Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy, and Steve Pearce gave Baltimore a 2-0 lead.
Nolan Reimold, called up from the minors on Tuesday, led off the third inning with a home run to center field. Jones then doubled, the ball skipping past third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Delmon Young's single with two outs scored Jones.
Manny Machado started the bottom of the fourth inning with a home run to left-center.
All three of the home runs Miley allowed were on fastballs left over the plate. He has a 5.07 earned run average in 12 starts.
"Just mistakes. Fastballs missing location," said Miley, one of several offseason acquisitions performing poorly.
The Sox never recovered from the 4-0 hole Miley dug. They cut into the deficit, twice bringing the go-ahead run to the plate. But Baltimore completed the three-game sweep.
According to Farrell, the Sox are fighting. But there was an air of resignation in the clubhouse afterward. Even David Ortiz, who hit a long home run in the eighth inning, declined comment.
At 27-34, the Sox are seven games out in the American League East, their biggest deficit of the season. They have the same record they did after 61 games last season en route to a last-place finish.
The Red Sox return to Fenway Park on Friday to play the Toronto Blue Jays, who have won eight straight and had Thursday off.
The game had an unusual but ultimately frustrating end for the Sox. With two outs in the ninth inning and Orioles closer Zach Britton in the game, Blake Swihart hit a grounder to third base. Umpire Chris Guccione hesitated then called Swihart out at first base on a close play as the crowd of 22,840 celebrated.
The Sox challenged the call and it was quickly overturned. Given new life, Dustin Pedroia came to the plate but struck out swinging. It was the 17th save for Britton.
After sweeping Oakland at home last weekend, the Sox reverted to form.
"Every day is a new day. It's the major leagues. You've got to go out and play good every day and be consistent every day," Pedroia said. "When you're not, you're not going to win."
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman retired the first nine Red Sox in order. Going back to Wednesday, Orioles pitchers had set down 21 in a row at that point.
Pedroia and Brock Holt started the fourth inning with singles and Hanley Ramirez walked. Ortiz popped up to left, Tillman going after the struggling designated hitter with all fastballs.
Mike Napoli delivered a sacrifice fly to center field. Sandoval then doubled to left-center and two runs scored.
It was the first extra-base hit for Sandoval since May 16 and his first RBI since May 24.
Ramirez walked to start the sixth inning and took second when Sandoval singled with two outs. The Orioles went to their bullpen but Xander Bogaerts singled off Brad Brach to drive in Ramirez.
With the Orioles up, 5-4, and Steven Wright pitching for the Sox, Machado reached on a throwing error by Sandoval to start the seventh inning. A walk, a ground out, and Matt Wieters's sacrifice fly added a run.
Ortiz belted a slider from Chaz Roe deep into the bleachers in right-center in the eighth inning to bring the Sox back within a run.
It was the seventh home run of the season for Ortiz, his first in 69 at-bats dating to May 19. But he offered no words of encouragement.
"Not talking tonight," Ortiz said before walking slowly out of the clubhouse.
Peter Abraham can be reached at email@example.com.