Pitching-poor Red Sox drop Game 1

Pitching-poor Red Sox drop Game 1

BOSTON -- Doubleheaders, given the grueling nature of them, aren't always such an advantageous thing for a baseball team.

But never were the Red Sox more eager to get a nightcap under way than after suffering a sluggish 12-4 loss to the Yankees in Friday's matinee. This wasn't the start the Red Sox had in mind for this pivotal five-game showdown against their rivals from the Bronx, who now lead the American League East by 2 1/2 games.

"Go back in, have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and go get 'em," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona in between games.

Boston had the same attitude, if not the same pregame meal, before the opener, but things did not go according to plan.

Pitching was the big issue in this one, as the Red Sox simply couldn't get enough of it. Once again, Jason Johnson couldn't get deep into the game. He went 4 1/3 innings and gave up seven hits and four runs. It was the fifth time in Johnson's six starts with Boston that he was unable to go six innings.

Johnson wasn't around to reflect on the performance after the game -- he was designated for assignment to create a roster spot for Keith Foulke, who was activated for Game 2.

The inability of Johnson to eat innings was more painful this time around, because Francona wanted to keep as many fresh arms as he could for Game 2.

"Well, when you get to your bullpen when we did, the Yankees have a way of making you pay for it," Francona said.

It also wasn't a banner game for the Red Sox offensively as they went 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position.

"That kind of [stinks]," said Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell. "You can't do worse than that."

The loss spoiled a solid debut in a Boston uniform by Eric Hinske, who celebrated his arrival by stroking doubles in his first three at-bats.

"It was exciting," said Hinske. "The past couple of days have been a whirlwind. I was just excited to get out there and try to help the team win. It's too bad we couldn't come out with a win, but there's another game tonight, so hopefully we get a 'W.'"

Mark Loretta also had three doubles, but aside from that, the Red Sox couldn't get enough offense generated against right-hander Chien-Ming Wang to offset a potent Yankees offense that seemed to be clicking on all cylinders.

Johnny Damon had a big day against his former team, stroking a triple and a two-run homer, while also making a key sliding catch. Bobby Abreu made his presence felt in his first chapter of the rivalry, going 4-for-5.

"He's a good player and he's in the middle of a pennant race, which I'm sure has added to his excitement," said Francona of Abreu.

Johnson, as he did for most of his starts with the Red Sox, labored in the first inning. Damon tripled to open the game and swiftly scored on a single up the middle by Derek Jeter. Johnson got out of the inning without further damage, but threw 29 pitches. He settled down long enough for Boston to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the fourth. Hinske sparked the rally by stroking a one-out double to right. He moved up on a flyout to right by Javy Lopez and scored on a fielder's-choice grounder by Alex Gonzalez.

But just as the Red Sox settled back into it, Johnson got himself in another jam in the fifth. After issuing a one-out walk to Melky Cabrera, Johnson was taken deep for a two-run homer by Damon, who was making himself comfortable in his familiar surroundings. Johnson followed the homer by issuing singles to Jeter and Abreu, prompting Francona to bring on right-hander Kyle Snyder. That move didn't pay immediate dividends as Jason Giambi smacked an RBI single to make it 4-1.

The Red Sox stayed in it in the middle innings. Manny Ramirez went to the opposite field and wrapped a solo homer around the Pesky Pole in right in the fifth. An inning later, Lowell led off with a walk and Hinske smoked yet another double, setting up Gonzalez for a sac fly to center on which Damon made a tremendous sliding catch in the gap. Suddenly, the Sox were down just one again at 4-3.

Francona put in Manny Delcarmen in hopes of keeping the Red Sox in the game, but everything fell apart in the seventh. It started with Lowell making his first error in 70 games, allowing Jeter to reach base with one out. Abreu followed with a single and Giambi's RBI single up the middle began what would be a string of insurance runs for the Yankees. Alex Rodriguez doubled in a run and Robinson Cano blasted a two-run double to make it an 8-3 game.

"It's 4-3 in the seventh, and as unsuccessful as we were with runners in scoring position, we still had a chance," Francona said. "That's why we went to Delcarmen, just to see if we could hang in there and give it a shot. But once they got the ball rolling ..."

Rudy Seanez took the brunt of New York's late-game attack, giving up three hits and four runs over 1 1/3 innings.

By the end of the afternoon, the offense's inability to deliver with men on base seemed to be a moot point.

"Good pitching," Sox slugger David Ortiz said of the Yankees. "I'll tell you what, good pitching can stop good hitting. It's part of this game. To be in our dugout didn't feel good. You don't want to see your pitchers give it up like that, but that's the game."

The Red Sox were just glad it wasn't the only one they'd play on Friday.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.