BOSTON -- The momentum that Andrew Miller had built in a promising two-start stretch was flattened by the lefty's poorest performance of the season.
The lanky lefty put the Red Sox in an early bind and they never recovered, getting drubbed, 10-0, by the Rangers on Friday night at Fenway Park.
Could these have been the same Rangers Miller fired 6 1/3 shutout innings against on Aug. 25 in Texas?
It was hard to believe, but then again, Miller's inconsistency has been a troubling trademark during his career.
"Yeah, that's something we're trying to do better at," said manager Terry Francona. "We got awfully excited the last couple of starts, and then today, coming out of the chute, leaving a lot of balls up, especially armside. Then when he did bring it into the plate, it was in the middle, and he got hit."
Miller lasted just 1 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and six runs while walking four and striking out one.
"It's disappointing," Miller said. "I felt like I had been throwing the ball well. I had gotten opportunities. I certainly didn't do that tonight. From here, you dust yourself off. I'll be prepared next time I get an opportunity, but pretty poor performance tonight."
The Red Sox were down, 6-0, by the time they came to the plate in the second inning.
"I don't think he was as sharp as the last time, but we made him throw the ball over the plate," said Rangers outfielder David Murphy. "He got off to a bad start, was all over the place and we took advantage of that."
The loss moved Boston a half-game behind the Yankees in the American League East, marking the first time Francona's team has been in second place since Aug. 22.
Miller wasn't the only person to have a rough night. Matt Albers, a bright spot of the bullpen during the first half of the season, continued his sharp decline, giving up three hits -- two of them homers -- and three runs.
The offense also had an off night, getting stifled by Rangers lefty Derek Holland, who fired seven innings of two-hit baseball.
"It's the first time I've faced him, so I don't know what his best stuff looks like, but he was pretty good out there," said first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. "I only got to face him two times, and he came after me with pretty much fastballs."
There was a bright spot in this one for the Red Sox. Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who has been stymied since July 29 in his pursuit of career victory No. 200, had a tune-up out of the bullpen and pitched four shutout innings.
Wakefield will start on Wednesday night in Toronto.
"He was good," Francona said. "That was nice to see. Any time you're looking for positives, but he was really good. Hopefully it came at a time where it's right in between -- far enough from his last start and right in line with his next start where maybe he could carry that in. That would be terrific."
But what about Miller?
"We fell behind some guys," said catcher Jason Varitek. "We couldn't really zone in. Not to make excuses, but it's been a while since he's been on the mound. They didn't really give him much room. Then once that happened, they stepped on the gas pedal pretty good."
Miller opened in a bad way, walking Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. Miller then balked to put both in scoring position.
"[Kinsler] flinched, and I flinched myself," said Miller. "I think I had him picked off if I spin or go inside or whatever. I can't remember the last time I balked. I don't think I balked in college. Shoot. That goes to show you the game was a little sped up on me. I just wasn't handling it well. That stunk because that ended up costing us a run."
Instead of settling down in the second, Miller got himself right back in a hole. He gave up singles to Yorvit Torrealba and Murphy to open the inning. With one out, Kinsler hit a mammoth three-run homer over the Green Monster. Michael Young walked, and just like that, Miller's night was over.
"[I] felt great in the bullpen, felt good in my warmup pitches right before the game. [I] just came out and didn't have the zone right away, and it cost me," said Miller.
Because Miller is essentially the sixth man in a five-man rotation, there's no telling when his next start will come.
"I don't have any fear about anything like that," Miller said. "All I can do is work hard and be prepared next time I get an opportunity. I think that's the mentality I'm going to take. Right now, I'm just frustrated and disappointed with tonight's outing."