ATLANTA (AP) — Boston Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington told a group of reporters late Wednesday afternoon that he is fully to blame for the team’s poor performance this season.
By the bottom of the seventh inning, however, the Red Sox were losing again and manager John Farrell had been ejected.
It’s been that kind of season for Boston.
“When you are where we are, there’s a lot of reasons for it,” Cherington said. “There’s no single player that’s responsible for that. The only person that’s perhaps responsible for a longer list of reasons is me.”
Following a 5-2 loss to the Atlanta Braves, the Red Sox have dropped eight of nine overall, 11 of 12 on the road and are in last place — eight games out in the AL East.
Boston is 99-130 since winning the World Series two years ago.
Atlanta’s Nick Markakis singled in the go-ahead run in the seventh and Pedro Ciriaco added a pair of RBI singles to help the Braves win for the third time in five games.
Atlanta took its first lead at 3-2 in the seventh when Markakis singled to score Cameron Maybin. Markakis’ hit came off Junichi Tazawa (0-3), who gave up three hits, two runs and one walk in two-thirds of an inning.
Tommy Layne relieved Tazawa and gave up a bases-loaded walk to A.J. Pierzynski that made it 4-2. Craig Breslow, the sixth Boston pitcher, allowed Maybin’s RBI single that made it 5-2 in the eighth.
Nick Masset (2-1) earned the win in relief, facing four batters in the seventh, and Jason Grilli recorded his 18th save in 20 chances. Mookie Betts led off the ninth with a single, but Grilli struck out Blake Swihart, and pinch-hitter David Ortiz and Dustin Pedroia each popped up.
Farrell’s ejection marked the third time he left the dugout and returned dissatisfied.
He lost an instant replay challenge in the first when Brock Holt was thrown out at second on Xander Bogaerts’ fielder’s choice. In the second, Farrell failed to persuade first-base umpire and crew chief Larry Vanover to request a video review after Betts was called out on a close play at first.
In the seventh, Vanover tossed Farrell for yelling from the dugout on Ciriaco’s check swing.
“It was clearly a full swing, and he ran me at that point,” Farrell said. “So I went out to argue my case.”
Boston took a 1-0 lead in the fourth when starting pitcher Joe Kelly, batting with the bases loaded, beat out second baseman Jace Peterson’s throw for a single.
Braves third baseman Juan Uribe amended his throwing error from the top of the fourth with a leadoff single in the bottom of the inning. Uribe advanced to second on a groundout and scored on Ciriaco’s RBI single to make it 1-1.
Mike Napoli’s 10th homer, solo shot in the sixth, put the Red Sox up 2-1.
In the bottom of the sixth, Markakis scored from third on Ciriaco’s single off Alexi Ogando, the third Boston pitcher of the inning.
Kelly allowed five hits, two runs, three walks and struck out three in five-plus innings. Kelly was chased by Uribe’s single in the sixth.
“Obviously, it was very humid out there and hot,” Kelly said in reference to the 93-degree weather in the first. “I tried to do a good job and hydrate all day, but you really can’t prepare for it until you’re out there. Not only are you facing the hitter, but you’re also battling the heat. I thought I did a pretty good job of that.”
Braves starter Alex Wood gave up five hits, two walks, struck out seven and allowed two runs — one earned.
Red Sox: RHP Justin Masterson, on the 15-day disabled list since May 13 with shoulder tendinitis, allowed four hits, two runs, three walks and struck out four in six innings in a rehab start Tuesday with Triple-A Pawtucket.
Braves: 1B Freddie Freeman went 0 for 3 before leaving after the sixth inning with a sprained right hand. Freeman said he had a cortisone shot, will miss Thursday’s game and hopes to return Friday against the New York Mets. … SS Andrelton Simmons was out of the lineup for the second straight day with an injured right hand. Ciriaco started in his place and went 3 for 4.