BOSTON — Even Jonathan Papelbon can’t be counted on to save the Red Sox now.
And Boston keeps stumbling toward a playoff berth – or an epic collapse.

The most dependable player for the Red Sox blew his first save in 4½ months when Robert Andino’s three-run double in the eighth inning lifted the Baltimore Orioles to a 7-5 victory Tuesday night and ruined a chance for Boston to extend its two-game lead in the AL wild-card race.

The Red Sox seemed headed for a three-game wild-card lead over Tampa Bay, which lost to the New York Yankees 5-0. But their struggles continued; they fell to 4-13 since leading the Rays by nine games on Sept. 3. They haven’t won consecutive games since sweeping a doubleheader against Oakland on Aug. 27.

“My job when I’m called on is to go out there and finish the game,” Papelbon said. “I didn’t do that, so this game is on me and I take full responsibility for that.”

The closer who had gone 21 games since last allowing a run July 16 wasn’t the only one blaming himself in the quiet Red Sox clubhouse after losing to the team with baseball’s third-worst record.

Right fielder Josh Reddick said “it was the worst feeling ever” after his error on a two-out liner by Vladimir Guerrero led to two runs in the third and forced starter Erik Bedard to face four extra batters.
“We should have never had that close of a game,” Reddick said. “I kind of hurt the whole team from bottom to top.”

Papelbon said “There’s no reason for us to sit here and say, ‘The walls are crumbling down, start panicking.’ That’s not going to happen in this clubhouse. Nobody’s going to hand us any wins. We’ve got to go out there and get it on our own.”

Boston has seven games remaining. Tampa Bay has nine.

“We’ll take that situation every day” with Papelbon entering with a 5-4 lead, second baseman Dustin Pedroia said. “We’ll come out (tonight) and play our butts off. … We’re good. We’ll be all right. Take a deep breath.”

Willie Eyre (2-1) got the win and Jim Johnson picked up his eighth save in 13 opportunities. Daniel Bard (2-9) had runners at first and second with one out when he was replaced by Papelbon, who entered with 30 saves in 31 chances.

Papelbon, who had 28 strikeouts in the 21 straight scoreless outings, struck out Chris Davis for the second out. Then Nolan Reimold singled to short left field, loading the bases, and Andino doubled down the right-field line for his third hit of the game.

Papelbon was more upset with his 0-2 pitch Reimold hit to keep the inning alive.
“Unacceptable,” he said firmly.

Papelbon had his first blown save since May 9, the last time he entered a game before the ninth inning.

The Red Sox wrap up a four-game series with the Orioles tonight before playing their last six on the road, three each against the New York Yankees and Baltimore.

“Just the emotion of the games, I think, plays well for us,” Baltimore Manager Buck Showalter said.

We kind of, more than anything, just have some envy. At some point we want to be in their position.”

NOTES: Jacoby Ellsbury’s single in the fourth was his 200th hit. It came one day after Gonzalez had five hits to reach 203 for the season. It’s the third time the Red Sox have had two players with 200 hits in the same season – Wade Boggs (240) and Bill Buckner (201) in 1985 and Boggs (207) and Jim Rice (200) in 1986.