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Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 3: Sox come up just short once again

The Red Sox have been putting up some big wins and some small losses these past few weeks. Saturday saw one of the latter.

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Red Sox had an opportunity to open a sizable lead in the East, but with another one-run loss—they’ve lost six straight such decisions—the lead is back down to one game ahead of Sunday’s important rubber match.

Saturday’s outing was not exactly a deserving follow-up to Eduardo Rodriguez’ no-hit bid against the Athletics. The Blue Jays dispelled the possibility of Rodriguez pushing for history again in their very first at-bat, with Devon Travis providing a leadoff single to get them in the hit column. Rodriguez would work around that first baserunner, but not his second in the next inning. After Russell Martin drew a leadoff walk, Melvin Upton Jr. made up for some of his Friday failures in the field by cranking a two-run shot into the seats in center field to make it 2-0.

Rodriguez didn’t let the game get out-of-hand, but the Jays did manage to keep the pressure on in the third, with a leadoff double from, again, Travis turning into a run even as Travis was replaced on the basepaths when Xander Bogaerts (barely) caught him trying to advance to third on a ground ball from Josh Donaldson. He survived another early runner in scoring position to escape the fourth without allowing another run, and had an easier time of things in the fifth and sixth. But with three earned runs in six frames of work, Rodriguez was only decent where he has generally been excellent for the Sox in the second half.

Still, three-in-six would often be enough to get a win with this lineup behind him. Against J.A. Happ, though, the Sox would have few answers. This time, it was Toronto’s lefty making a no-hit bid. He gave them a chance to get on the board in the second, surrendering a walk to Mookie Betts and clipping Chris Young’s foot to put two men on base, but struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. to escape the inning. The next seven would go in order before Chris Young broke up the no-no with one down in the fifth, but he was again left on base.

The Sox would finally get to Happ in the sixth, but really it was only Dustin Pedroia coming alive, going deep down the left field line to lead off the inning and bring the Sox within two. It wasn’t until the seventh where they would see their first sustained rally against Happ, and that only lasted for the first two batters, with Hanley Ramirez and Aaron Hill picking up singles to chase Happ from the game. Joaquin Benoit would nearly end up giving away the lead, allowing Jackie Bradley to push Jose Bautista all the way back to the wall. But Joey Bats was able to make the leaping grab, holding Bradley to a sacrifice fly scoring Hanley from third, and not the three-run shot or two-run double the Sox really needed.

That brought the Sox within one, but it was also their last big chance to score. A two-out error on a ground ball from David Ortiz didn’t turn into anything larger, and a leadoff walk to Hanley Ramirez in the ninth proved equally fruitless as Brock Holt, Chris Young, and Jackie Bradley Jr. went down on an easy ground ball, a pop-up in foul territory, and a strikeout to end the game.

It’s a win the spiraling Jays needed more than the Red Sox, but with Clay Buchholz taking on Aaron Sanchez in the series finale, it certainly feels like a missed opportunity for Boston to step on the throat of their closest competition.