That five-game winning streak that peaked during a three-game sweep of the Yankees over the weekend? It was nothing more than a distant memory after an ugly 10-3 loss to the Blue Jays on Tuesday that put the Sox on the other end of the broom treatment, albeit in a brief two-game set with another American League East foe.
The recipe for all that ailed the Red Sox was quite obvious to anyone who watched.
It was a night in which the Sox were all too prone to breakdowns with their pitching and defense, and that is never going to lead to much success.
"We didn't catch it, we threw it around a little bit and didn't throw enough strikes," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "It all ads up to a tough night for us."
And tough to watch for a crowd of 37,161, the largest attendance at Fenway Park since World War II.
The Red Sox made a season-high four errors, which is almost always costly on a night the opposing pitcher is Roy Halladay.
"This guy throws everything for strikes," said Sox shortstop Julio Lugo. "Fastball, sinker, slider -- everything for strikes. It seems like he's never behind hitters. He keeps you off-balanced. He's one of the best."
Meanwhile, Julian Tavarez struggled for the Sox, allowing seven hits and six runs over 4 2/3 innings. Kyle Snyder tried to keep it close in relief, but he was done in by four unearned runs in the sixth inning that saw a competitive game turn into a romp.
The most costly error came from center fielder Wily Mo Pena, who dropped a liner by Adam Lind that would have been the third out of the sixth inning at a time the Sox were on the wrong end of a modest 6-3 score. Instead, the flood-gates opened, and the Sox were down 10-3 by the time they stepped to the plate in the bottom of the sixth.
"I just missed it," Pena said. "It was a line drive, going down quick. I tried to do the best I could. Sometimes you miss it. It hit inside my glove."
Pena became a target of the Fenway boo birds for the rest of the night, even getting a mock cheer when he caught a fly ball. The good-natured outfielder, who was subbing for the injured Coco Crisp for the third game in a row, didn't let it get to him.
"I've been there before," said Pena. "[The fans are] up and down. Here, it's all about baseball, and that's good. That keeps you doing the best you can."
As sloppy as the night was for the defense, Tavarez didn't look for any scapegoats.
|"I made some bad pitches out there, and I got hurt. That's how it is in this game."|
|-- Julian Tavarez|
Vernon Wells, who was in the middle of everything (4-for-5, four runs, three RBIs) all night, opened the scoring by hammering a two-out solo shot over the Green Monster in the top of the first.
The Red Sox bounced right back against Halladay in their half of the inning. Lugo led off with a single, stole second, moved to third on a groundout by Eric Hinske and scored on David Ortiz's RBI single to left.
The tie lasted until the top of the third, when the Jays rallied against Tavarez. With the bases loaded and one out, Frank Thomas delivered a two-run double off the scoreboard in left. Lyle Overbay followed by hitting a grounder that Hinske bobbled. The error brought home another run to make it 4-1.
"I made some bad pitches out there, and I got hurt," said Tavarez. "That's how it is in this game."
The Red Sox hope for a better performance from Tavarez on Sunday, when he takes the ball at Yankee Stadium.
"Like Halladay did tonight, Julian needs to pound the zone and throw strikes," Francona said. "If he's getting groundballs, consistent groundballs, that's when he's in good shape."
Early on, the Sox seemed primed to make a game of it. Lugo again got it started with an infield hit and a stolen base. Hinske followed with a single to right and Lugo barely slid in safely to cut the deficit back to two runs. Mike Lowell made it a 4-3 game by unloading for a solo homer to left in the fourth.
Again, Tavarez let go the momentum. Overbay went to the opposite field for a two-run double on which Manny Ramirez couldn't get a good grip on the ball, throwing the ball into the ground. It was the last pitch of the night for Tavarez, who muttered in disgust as he backed up home plate. That marked the beginning of the end for the Red Sox.
"This is a long season, and nobody likes to ever lose," said Francona. "But it's inevitable that you lose games. When you do lose, you need to bounce back and play better the next night. That's the whole idea."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.