BOSTON — The Boston Red Sox are a desperate team, and for good reason. Boston’s offensive malaise continued Saturday in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers, before a sold-out Fenway crowd of 37,256.

Detroit jumped on starter Steven Wright early for four runs and it was already too much for Boston. The Red Sox (43-55) have lost nine of 10 games. Detroit improved to 48-49.

Boston has scored only 16 runs in its last nine games. That may explain why third base coach Brian Butterfield sent David Ortiz home in the second inning, trying in vain to score from second base.

Ortiz had hesitated to make sure Hanley Ramirez’ bouncer got through to left field. As strong-armed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes charged the ball, Butterfield waved Ortiz home. Cespedes threw him out.

“We’re forcing to try and score some runs,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said. “We’re forcing Cespedes to throw a strike, and he throws a strike.”

Cespedes gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with a blast over the Green Monster in the first inning.

Wright (3-4) lasted 41/3 innings, allowing five hits, including Nick Castellanos’ two-run double in the fourth that made it 4-0.

Two of Wright’s four runs were unearned because of passed balls. Catcher Blake Swihart had trouble tracking the knuckleball, allowing four to pass by. Swihart has caught Wright before, but Saturday was different.

“It was moving a lot more than it has all year,” Wright said. “But that can cause problems. It’s hard to hit, so it’s hard to catch.”

Swihart didn’t make excuses.

“He did a great job throwing the ball,” Swihart said. “My job is to knock it down any way I can, and I didn’t do a very good job of that.”

The second inning was especially tough. J.D. Martinez walked and went to second on a passed ball. With one out, Alex Avila struck out, but the ball got by Swihart, putting runners on first and third. Martinez scored on a fielder’s choice.

Boston got its run in the fifth when Swihart tripled and scored on Mookie Betts’ ground out.

Boston had chances early. Even after Ortiz was thrown out, Ramirez reached third with two outs. But Mike Napoli struck out.

In the fourth, Detroit starter Alfredo Simon (9-6) sandwiched a pair of two-out walks around a Ramirez single. But Napoli grounded out to third.

Noe Ramirez, who pitched for the Portland Sea Dogs the past two years, made his third major league appearance. He got out of a two-men-on fifth-inning jam left by Wright, but gave up a homer by Castellanos in the sixth.

NOTES: Swihart is batting .300 (15-for-50) in his last 15 games. … Former Sea Dogs All-Star Alex Wilson pitched 1-2/3 perfect innings for Detroit. … Any thoughts of Brian Johnson returning to Boston’s rotation are on hold. He’s listed as Pawtucket’s starter on Tuesday.