The Red Sox held another team meeting before Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves. The theme was shutting out distractions and playing as a team.
Us against the world; we only have each other. You know the drill.
“We’re going to try to be positive and we’re going to play winning baseball. We’re not going to care what anybody else says,” second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “We’re going to care about our 25 guys and play together and that’s about it.”
A few minutes later, during a feisty pregame session with reporters, manager John Farrell said his last-place team still had plenty of fight.
“No one’s giving up here. No one’s giving up on this team. No one’s giving up on this season inside of our clubhouse,” he said. “That might be otherwise but that’s not inside of our clubhouse.”
To some degree, the words registered as the Red Sox played with some vigor against the Braves. But the result, a 4-2 loss, was the same.
That’s seven losses in a row for the Red Sox, who face the Braves again on Tuesday afternoon before playing 12 of the next 15 games on the road.
The Sox could be stripped for parts next month and be playing for a new manager at the pace they’re on. At 27-38, they’re nine games out.
The Red Sox did manage to get the go-ahead run to the plate in the ninth inning against Braves closer Jason Grilli. Pablo Sandoval doubled with two outs before Mike Napoli reached on a rare error by Atlanta shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
Mookie Betts worked the count full and singled to center field to drive in Sandoval.
With backup catcher Sandy Leon due up, the $200 million Red Sox turned to Alejandro De Aza to pinch hit. The .208 hitter tapped a ball back to the mound to end the game.
“Baby steps, man. We played hard. It’s a baseball game,” Pedroia said. “We did a lot of good things; we were a couple of runs short. It’s baseball. You can’t predict the outcome. Show up tomorrow with the same attitude.”
Pedroia backed his talk by going 2 for 3 with a walk. Betts had three hits and Sandoval a pair of doubles.
The Braves took a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning. With one out, Freddie Freeman singled, stole second, and scored on a single by Nick Markakis.
After Juan Uribe singled, Markakis took third on a fly ball and scored on a wild pitch. A.J. Pierzynski singled past a diving Napoli to drive in Uribe.
Atlanta added a fourth run in the seventh inning. Kelly Johnson singled before Rick Porcello walked old friend Jonny Gomes and hit Simmons.
With the bases loaded and one out, Farrell turned to lefthander Robbie Ross Jr., recalled from Triple A Pawtucket earlier in the day.
With the infield in, Ross allowed a single by Jace Peterson.
Porcello is 0-5 in his last five starts with a 6.97 earned run average. He is 4-7 with a 5.29 ERA on the season.
“All pitches were working,” said Porcello, who flung his glove into the dugout as he left the game. “One inning where they put up three runs. That was basically it.”
Atlanta rookie Williams Perez handled the Red Sox easily, allowing five singles and two walks over six shutout innings. He induced three double plays and picked up 12 outs on the ground in all.
Perez (3-0) has made six starts and only once has allowed more than one run.
The closest the Sox came to scoring against him was in the sixth inning when Pedroia and Brock Holt drew two-out walks. But Hanley Ramirez grounded to third base and Uribe stepped on the bag to end the inning.
Down, 4-0, the Sox finally scored in the seventh inning when Xander Bogaerts homered to center field off lefthander Dana Eveland.
Sandoval followed with a double, his first extra-base hit against a lefthander this season. Sandoval has abandoned switch-hitting and batted lefthanded against Eveland.
The Braves went to righthander Nick Masset and he retired Napoli on a grounder to third base. Napoli batted seventh after getting two days off and was 0 for 4. He’s down to .196.
After a wild pitch advanced Sandoval to third base, Masset got Betts on a popup.
At least there was some fight.
“What matters most is that we rely on one another. We’re in a situation where we’ve dug ourselves a hole, let’s be quite honest,” Farrell said. “What we do is rally and support one another and go out and play the game assertively, anticipate situations as they unfold on the field, have one another’s back.”