PHILADELPHIA -- It was just over a week ago the Red Sox were pounding the baseball at a prolific rate, putting up double-digit scoring outputs with ease. Now? They are in a considerable funk offensively, the latest display there for all to see Wednesday in a 2-1 loss to the Phillies.
While losing four of their first five games on this nine-game road trip, the Red Sox have scored a total of 10 runs.
"We all haven't swung the bats good," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "You know how it is. When we all get together and swing the bats well, we score a lot of runs. When we don't, we're not going to score a lot. We've got to do a better job of when we're not swinging it well, finding ways to score runs."
Manager Terry Francona tried to help find his team a way in this one, hoping a creative alignment that had David Ortiz playing first base for the first time this season and Adrian Gonzalez starting in right field for the first time in six years could provide a jolt.
Instead, the Sox managed just five hits and their only RBI came from starting pitcher John Lackey, who clubbed an RBI double to center in the top of the fifth.
But it was Lackey's pitching that kept the Red Sox in this one to the end. The veteran righty threw just 90 pitches over 7 2/3 innings, allowing eight hits and two runs while walking one and striking out five.
"I thought he was tremendous," Francona said. "I thought he threw as good a breaking ball or better than we've seen. I think he felt the same way. He got us deep into the game and helped us with his bat. We scored one run. That's a hard way to win. I thought he did terrific."
In losing for the sixth time in the last eight games, the Red Sox couldn't solve Phils starter Vance Worley, who allowed five hits and a run over seven innings, walking two and striking out five.
"He looked like he's been around for a long time," said Ortiz. "He's got good command, you know, and, man, he looked like one of those big starters they have right there. He looked very comfortable, you know what I'm saying? I don't blame him. He's got the best pitching staff around him. A smart guy takes advantage of it, tries to learn, talks to those guys and sees what they're thinking when they're pitching."
Things don't get any easier for the Sox on Thursday afternoon, when they try to stave off the sweep. In that one, the Phillies throw lefty Cole Hamels on the mound. The Red Sox counter with one of their best in Jon Lester.
What is going on with Boston's bats?
"Sometimes we get caught on all those days off," Ortiz said. "For me, personally, I don't like that many days off. When I'm swinging the bat good and I'm in a good rhythm, I want to continue playing. You get caught up in that. I'm not making that as an excuse, but it has something to do with it when you're swinging the bat good, and all of a sudden, you're not playing. I'm talking about in general, not just about myself. There were two days off in this road trip."
Or perhaps it's just one of those ruts a team hits over the course of a long season?
"We're not going to release our team," Francona said. "That's the way the game goes. You don't score at that pace all the time. You hope with some of these games when you're not [hitting], you win 2-1."
The Red Sox trail the Yankees by 2 1/2 games in the American League East.
Lackey ran into a jam in the bottom of the second, when Shane Victorino led off with a double to left and Raul Ibanez singled him home.
The Phillies held that 1-0 lead for a while. It was Lackey of all people who tied it for Boston, raking a two-out double to center in the fifth that scored Josh Reddick from first.
"It kind of breaks up a season a little bit. It's kind of fun to get up there, swing it a little bit," said Lackey.
Amid rumors earlier in the day that he might need elbow surgery at some point this season, Lackey put together a strong showing, pitching well for the fourth time in five starts since coming off the DL.
Does Lackey think he'll need surgery?
"It's a possibility for everybody in here," he said. "You can throw that against the wall and see if it sticks. What did it look like tonight?"
In the seventh, with Jarrod Saltalamacchia on first and two outs, Francona had to decide whether to pinch-hit for Lackey. The righty was only at 77 pitches, so Francona stuck with him and he grounded out.
"He had taken the best swing of the night," Francona said. "They had a lefty up in the bullpen. It probably wasn't in our best interest."
Ibanez then led off the bottom of the seventh for the Phils by belting a go-ahead solo homer to right. Ibanez is 22-for-57 (.386 average) lifetime against Lackey.
"He's seen me about 800 times in the AL West," Lackey said. "I don't have many tricks that he hasn't seen."
But the Red Sox had never seen Worley before, and he made a strong impression.
"I didn't treat the game any differently than I would have with any other team," Worley said. "It's an achievement, yeah. It just shows I can compete at this level against one of the top [teams]."