Saturday slowdown for Red Sox

Saturday slowdown for Red Sox

SAN DIEGO -- Red Sox manager Terry Francona didn't need a television replay to tell him that he had seen enough call reversals for one night. Josh Bard's blast off the left-field foul pole in the bottom of the sixth inning was initially ruled foul by third-base umpire Brian Knight.

After a group discussion, the umpires changed the call and a fair ball had turned Francona's mood decidedly foul. The two-run homer was the second time in as many innings in which Knight made a call that didn't stand up.

Francona took his second ejection of the season and had to watch the remainder of his team's 6-1 loss to the Padres from the clubhouse. It was just as well. For the Red Sox, Saturday was not a night in which a close-up view would be appreciated.

Chris Young (seven innings, one hit, no runs, two walks and 11 strikeouts) turned the Boston bats silent. Wakefield, meanwhile, was upended for eight hits and six runs over 5 1/3 innings.

In the end, the umpiring crew got the calls right, and by the time the game had ended, Francona seemed fine with it all.

"I have a feeling they probably ended up getting both right," Francona said. "You get frustrated, that's part of it. I told the guy, 'I wish you would have gotten it right, then I could have stayed off the field.' They got them right. Actually, when umpires confer like that, you appreciate it, because sometimes they're going to be in your favor. Getting the call right is important; sometimes you have to yell at somebody, that's all."

That somebody on this night was Knight, who has been a fill-in umpire for the past seven years.

"He hasn't umpired in this park that much," said crew chief Dana DeMuth to a pool reporter. "He saw where it hit on that 18-inch extension, and that gave him the perception that it hit foul, that it hit on the blue side. He did not realize that it went out 18 inches, and we did. That call came from the home-plate umpire [Doug Eddings] and Derryl [Cousins]."

For Wakefield, the whole night didn't seem to add up. Usually when he gets hit hard, he has no feel for the knuckler. That wasn't the case in this one.

"It just seems like every ball I made a mistake on, they hit," Wakefield said. "I don't know. The stuff that I had tonight, for me to give up six runs in 5 1/3 just blows me away. The homer to Khalil [Greene], 0-2, I left it up. The other one I gave up to him was a fastball down the middle. I tried to throw it down and away, and I left it over the plate. I don't know what to say."

Young said plenty with the way he pitched, leaving the Red Sox muttering on their way back to the dugout.

"He just elevated his fastball, he just kept us off-balanced with his slider, and we just couldn't get anything going," said Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "That was the biggest thing. You're not going to win many games when you score one run, especially in the ninth."

Bard, whose struggles at catching Wakefield were well-chronicled, had much better luck with a bat in his hand. Boston's backup catcher for the first month of 2006 struck an RBI double off a Wakefield knuckler in the second inning to make it 1-0 for the Padres. Little did the Red Sox know it at the time, but they would play from behind for the rest of the night.

The Sox did get something going in the fifth inning, as J.D. Drew led off with a single to right and Mike Lowell reached on an error. But with first and second and nobody out, Young went right through the soft spot in Boston's lineup, striking out Doug Mirabelli, Julio Lugo and Wakefield.

Immediately after the lost opportunity by the Red Sox, the Padres pounced in their half of the fifth. Greene led off with the first of his two solo homers on the night. With one out, Kevin Kouzmanoff lined one to left and Manny Ramirez went for a shoe-string catch. Initially, that's exactly what Knight ruled it. But after a conference between the umpires, it was changed to a hit. Television replays indicated that it was a trap instead of a catch.

"Very deflating, especially the first one," Wakefield said. "After they changed it, I discussed it with Doug Eddings and he said if there's a runner on, they can't change the call, which I don't understand. I think that's a terrible rule. The umpire makes a call, it should stand. I'm not saying that was the result of us losing tonight. I should have pitched better than I did. Unfortunately that's the way it happened."

The reversal of the call came back to haunt the Sox. Young bunted Kouzmanoff to second, and Wakefield then gave up an RBI single to left by Marcus Giles to give the Padres a 3-0 lead.

As the Red Sox already knew, Young has come a long way since registering his first Major League victory at Fenway Park on September 4, 2004.

"Now, all of, a sudden, he's got a couple of years under his belt," Francona said. "He's throwing offspeed stuff for strikes. He's elevating that fastball, and with his size, he still gets an angle. Hitters aren't getting a good look at it. But to go with his stuff, he's got some deception. He's a phenomenal pitcher."

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