CLEVELAND – Before his team’s game against Cleveland, Boston Manager Bobby Valentine expressed confidence that the Red Sox were ready to make a run at the playoffs.

Asked why he held that opinion, Valentine said, “We’re due.”

Valentine’s words could turn out to be true, but Thursday night’s 5-3 loss — Boston’s third straight and seventh in nine games — meant another day went off the schedule without the Red Sox gaining any ground.

Boston is six games behind in the AL wild-card race. The fact the Red Sox trail five teams makes their situation even more problematic.

Boston’s latest loss came against a Cleveland team that snapped an 11-game losing streak Wednesday. It wasn’t how the Red Sox wanted to open a 10-game trip that includes three-game series against AL East rivals Baltimore and New York.

“A lot of things I thought didn’t work out tonight, but they will (Friday),” Valentine said.


Felix Doubront (10-6) settled down after allowing Jason Donald’s leadoff homer in the first, but a three-run fifth inning turned a 3-1 lead into a deficit.

The left-hander retired nine straight before the next five hitters reached base. Carlos Santana’s RBI single through the left side tied the game before Michael Brantley’s sacrifice fly off Andrew Miller gave Cleveland a 4-3 lead.

“He wound up with a ground ball that wasn’t hit at someone and (it’s a) tie game and he’s out of there,” Valentine said of Santana’s hit that barely eluded shortstop Mike Aviles, who attempted a diving stop in the hole.

“I struggled in the fifth,” Doubront said. “I felt pretty strong but then I made some mistakes.”

Other than Adrian Gonzalez’s two-run homer in the fourth and Dustin Pedroia’s RBI single in the fifth, the offense was held in check by four pitchers.

Ubaldo Jimenez (9-11) worked into the seventh, allowing three runs and striking out 10. The Red Sox couldn’t generate any runs off relievers Tony Sipp, Vinnie Pestano and Chris Perez in the final three innings.

Boston ran itself out of a potential rally in the seventh. With one out and Pedro Ciriaco on second base, Carl Crawford grounded a pitch to shortstop. Asdrubal Cabrera fielded it and threw to third as Ciriaco tried to advance. Cabrera took third baseman Brent Lillibridge’s return throw and tagged out Ciriaco, then whirled and threw to second to nail Crawford.

“Pedro was a little overaggressive there,” Valentine said.


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