BOSTON — Now comes the really hard part for the Boston Red Sox: four more games against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Red Sox lost for the sixth time in seven games, wasting an eighth-inning lead when Adam Loewen’s two-run single off Daniel Bard lifted the Toronto Blue Jays to a 5-4 victory Wednesday.
“It’s just another loss. I don’t think it’s any tougher than any other loss,” first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. “We’ve got to find a way in the next series to play better baseball.”

Just 3-10 in September, the Red Sox have a four-game lead over Tampa Bay in the AL wild-card race. Boston led the AL East at the start of the month and was nine games ahead of the third-place Rays.

After getting swept in a three-game series at Tampa Bay last weekend, Boston hosts the Rays in a four-game series starting tonight.

“Very frustrating,” said Bard, 0-3 with a 30.86 ERA in his last three appearances. “I’ve been through it before. Sometimes the effects are magnified by how big the games are.”

Boston led 4-2 in the eighth before Toronto came back against the hard-throwing Bard (2-8), who entered and walked Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson.

Mark Teahen bunted, and Bard’s throw to first pulled Lars Anderson off the bag for an error that loaded the bases.

J.P. Arencibia’s RBI groundout cut the lead to 4-3, with third baseman Kevin Youkilis bobbling the ball and throwing to first. Loewen followed with a single to center.
Loewen, converted to outfielder from pitcher, was 0-1 with a 6.63 ERA in four starts against Boston for Baltimore in 2006 and ’07.

“I’m very aware of that. They got me,” he said, dressed in a ballerina costume as he spoke to the media, part of a late-season rookie hazing. “I think the best chance I had was against (Josh) Beckett in our place. I came out of the game (ahead) 2-1 in the sixth and they ended up winning it in the top of the ninth.”

Loewen has taken advantage of openings created by injuries.

“September is about taking a look at all of our personnel and he’s capitalized on every opportunity, so there’s no reason to think that’s not going to still be in the rotation and in the mix,” Toronto Manager John Farrell said.

Ricky Romero (15-10) allowed four runs, three earned, and six hits in eight innings. He improved to 8-1 in his last 10 starts.

Frank Francisco pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 15th save in 19 chances as the Blue Jays won for the third time in nine games at Fenway Park this season.

Red Sox starter John Lackey gave up two runs and seven hits in 51⁄3 innings, with 115 pitches.
“He had a high pitch count, mainly early,” Boston Manager Terry Francona said. “When he came out of the game, we had a good chance to win.”

Toronto took a 2-0 lead in the first on consecutive RBI singles by Encarnacion and Johnson, but Boston tied it in the second when Ryan Lavarnway reached on a run-scoring error by third baseman Brett Lawrie and an RBI grounder by Jason Varitek.

Marco Scutaro hit a sacrifice fly in the third after Jacoby Ellsbury’s triple, and Gonzalez homered into the Red Sox bullpen for a 4-2 lead in the sixth.

In the sixth, Varitek held on and tagged out Lawrie, who came crashing in with his forearms while trying to score from third on Loewen’s bouncer to second with the infield in.

NOTES: Gonzalez left with left calf tightness after his homer. He said it tightened up in his previous at-bat and bothered him on his home-run trot. “When I was rounding the bases, it got worse as I kept going,” he said. He hopes to play tonight. … Red Sox DH David Ortiz missed his second straight game with muscle spasms in his back. “He really wanted to play,” Francona said.