BOSTON -- At some point in the near future, the Red Sox hope Bobby Jenks will emerge into the dependable setup man they projected him to be. But at the moment, the erstwhile closer is struggling mightily in his transition to a new role.
The latest chapter came on Friday night, when Jenks came on in the top of the seventh with a one-run lead and gave up the tying and go-ahead run, as the Sox suffered a 5-4 loss to the Mariners in the opener of an 11-game homestand.
In his first 10 games with the Red Sox, Jenks has an 8.64 ERA. The big righty has been scored on in four of his last six outings. Opponents are hitting .324 against him. Interestingly, Jenks started the season well, going unscored on in his first four outings.
"I don't even know what to say right now," said Jenks. "I'm going out there, I feel terrific, all my stuff is there. Just the results aren't. I don't know what to make of it."
Ichiro Suzuki started the rally with a single and moved to third on a double into the left-field corner by Chone Figgins. With one out, Miguel Olivo got the tying run home on a fielder's-choice grounder to second. A double to center by Jack Cust gave Seattle a 5-4 lead.
"I don't know where I'm at right now. Obviously something's not clicking," said Jenks. "Something's off. I've got to fix it and fix it now."
While this isn't the first time Jenks has struggled in his career, he doesn't remember having subpar results for this long a period.
"Not this many times in a row," said Jenks. "It seems like every time I go out there something's finding a hole or flaring in there. I know they're good hitters, but the way I'm feeling right now, it shouldn't be happening."
Manager Terry Francona agreed with Jenks' assessment that he's not that far off from being effective.
"I think it's location," Francona said. "His stuff is good. You guys probably see it on the monitors. He's got all the pitches. It's just throwing to his spots a little bit better."
Of course, Jenks was far from the only problem the Red Sox had in this one. Daisuke Matsuzaka had to leave the game with nobody out in the fifth inning with tightness in his right elbow. The Red Sox and the righty are hoping he can make his next scheduled start on Wednesday.
"When the game started, I started to feel stiffness in my elbow and I could have continued throwing," Matsuzaka said through interpreter Kenta Yamada. "I didn't really feel I needed to pull off from the mound, but I left the judgment up to Tito. That was his decision to come off from the mound."
And after getting an early lift by Mike Cameron, who had his first two-homer game since 2009, Boston didn't score over the final five innings.
Jed Lowrie hit a towering shot to right-center to lead off the ninth, but he had the misfortune of putting it into the deepest part of Fenway Park. The ball was flagged down by center fielder Michael Saunders for a 420-foot out. Cameron flew to center for the second out and J.D. Drew struck out looking to end the game.
The Red Sox, after sweeping a four-game series in Anaheim, have lost three of their last four to fall to 11-14.
"We've run into a little bit of an inconsistent time where we have some opportunities to capitalize and pick up a few runs, but unfortunately you can't do anything about that," said Cameron. "You just try to keep pushing along and continue to get back in those situations where you can pick up those easy runs. We're just kind of fumbling a little right now.
"We ran into some guys that have done a decent job of holding their own on the mound. We've just got to keep going, keep grinding. We're close. We've just got to get the whole unit, all phases of the game, working together."
From the outset, Matsuzaka wasn't as sharp as in his last two starts. In the first, he issued a one-out walk to Figgins and a single to left by Olivo that left fielder Darnell McDonald made an error on, allowing the runners to go to second and third. Justin Smoak ripped a two-run single to right and the Red Sox were in a hole before they even took a swing.
"Well, the first inning, he gave up two," said Francona. "It's awfully hard to match giving up one hit through seven or eight. That's not going to happen every time. I thought he had some periods where he didn't throw the ball where he wanted to. When he does, he's fine."
Cameron got one of those runs back in the bottom of the second, when he curled one around Pesky's Pole in right for his first homer of the season.
The Red Sox again got to M's starter Jason Vargas in the third. Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz produced RBI singles to give Boston the lead at 3-2.
Cameron went deep for the second time in the fourth, hitting a solo shot over the Monster that gave Matsuzaka a two-run lead.
"That was good," Cameron said. "It was a good feeling. It's always good when you get some good results. I've been working a little bit. It's unfortunate we were on the wrong side of it today. All in all, we let this one slip away."