Alfredo Aceves lost home plate in the second inning and the surging Boston Red Sox wound up losing the game.
The versatile right-hander, pressed into his fourth start of the season because of major league ERA leader Josh Beckett’s stomach ailment, wasn’t involved in the decision, but his second-inning struggle contributed to the Red Sox’s 5-4 loss to the San Diego Padres.
Aceves had two outs and nobody on base with his team ahead 1-0. Then he walked five straight hitters, throwing 12 straight _ and 14 of 15 _ balls out of the strike zone in one stretch. Some of them weren’t close with the fourth ball to Chase Headley going behind the hitter.
Aceves gave up two more runs in the third, but on three hits, and got through five innings. The Red Sox rallied from a 4-1 deficit to tie before a run in the seventh gave San Diego the lead back and the Padres held on to even the series after two games.
“He lost his command and normally (after) a hitter or two you reel it back in,” Boston manager Terry Francona said after his team’s third loss in the last 17 games. “He just didn’t find it. Then he came back after that and put up some zeros.
Aceves, who found out Monday night he would be starting, had walked 16 in 43 2-3 innings coming into the game. Things got away from him in the second inning after he pitched out of trouble in the first when he allowed a double and hit a batter.
“I lost command,” he said. “I lost command and was trying to keep the ball down.”
He said he couldn’t recall ever going through a similar situation and was pleased he was at least able to leave with the Red Sox not far behind. He wanted to go out for the sixth but hadthrown 99 pitches, 53 for strikes. He was relieved by Dan Wheeler (0-1).
The string of walks was just one of several strange things that happened to the Red Sox on a night when they wasted four hits by Kevin Youkilis, a double and triple by left fielder Josh Reddick and excellent catches by Reddick and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. The largest Fenway Park crowd since World War II even saw David Ortiz’s first stolen base in almost three years and 11th of his career.
Strange? How about former Padre Adrian Gonzalez hitting into a 1-5-6 double play when starting pitcher Mat Latos failed to catch his liner and turned and threw to third. Later in the game, Ortiz, hitting against the shift, hit into a 5-6-3 double play.
Boston tied the game at 4 in the sixth on a run-scoring single by Gonzalez, who leads the majors with 68 RBIs.
Chad Qualls (4-3) pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings to get the win. Mike Adams pitched a perfect eighth before Heath Bell worked the ninth for his 19th save in 20 opportunities.
“When you come in Fenway Park against this lineup and hold them down the last three innings, it’s great work out of the pen,” Padres manager Bud Black said.