Red Sox Lose To Orioles, Wild Card Lead Over Rays Shrinks To 1.5 Games

If the Boston Red Sox miss the American League wild card by one game, there will be plenty of finger-pointing by Red Sox fans, bloggers and media.

And those fingers might be pointed directly at a David Ortiz foul ball hit during Boston's 6-5 loss to the Orioles in an afternoon affair on Monday that was a makeup of a game rained out on May 17.

In the bottom of the fifth inning of Monday's game, Ortiz was at bat with the Red Sox trailing 6-4 due largely to a poor outing from rookie Kyle Weiland. Two runs had already scored in the inning, and the tying run was on third base in the person of Dustin Pedroia, who had just tripled. Ortiz yanked a Jeremy Guthrie fastball down the right field line that could have been a RBI double; instead, it was ruled a foul ball and Ortiz wound up flying out harmlessly to center field to end the inning.

That run would have been very, very important to the Red Sox. In the bottom of the seventh, Marco Scutaro hit a two-out double down the left field line and was singled in by Adrian Gonzalez to make the score 6-5. Had the Ortiz hit been ruled fair, the game might have at the very least been tied.

The Red Sox went down meekly in the eighth and ninth innings against Baltimore relievers who normally don't scare anyone: Clay Rapada, Pedro Strop and Jim Johnson. Johnson induced three routine ground ball outs to post his seventh save of the season.

It has to be nervous time in Boston. The loss is the Red Sox' 66th of the season; they are 1-1/2 games ahead of the Rays, but just one ahead in the loss column. Tampa Bay, idle tonight, could be just one game behind -- and even in the loss column -- by the time they face the Yankees in New York on Tuesday. That's a tough four-game series for the Rays, but they do have an excellent 43-34 road record.

We've got ourselves an honest-to-goodness playoff race with just over a week to go. The Red Sox will send John Lackey -- who has had a terrible season -- against the Orioles' Brian Matusz in the night game, which begins at 7 p.m. ET.

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