TORONTO -- Kyle Drabek wasn't necessarily at his best on Saturday, but neither was the Blue Jays' defense in a game they needed to win to stay out of the basement in the American League East.
The second-year righty struggled at times with his control and allowed four runs in the second inning, but it was Toronto's work in the field that proved to be most costly.
Drabek allowed five runs, and a pair of defensive miscues behind him contributed to a 7-4 loss to the Red Sox at Rogers Centre.
"I just had one bad inning. Two outs, and I just left the ball up to a few batters, and they were able to hit them," said Drabek, who is now 4-6 with a 4.65 ERA. "Except for the second inning, I'm happy with it. I thought I was able to get some good strikes, quick innings, and get our guys back in there."
Drabek cruised through his first inning of work but began to experience some difficulty in the following frame. With two on, Will Middlebrooks and Nick Punto came through with back-to-back RBI hits to give Boston an early two-run lead.
The inning should have then ended with the following at-bat, but Colby Rasmus misread a hard liner to center by outfielder Daniel Nava. Instead of recording the final out, Rasmus appeared to have the ball bounce off his foot, and two runs scored.
"It had top spin, and it came back on him," manager John Farrell said. "It definitely had some movement back to his glove side, because when you look at it, he was going pretty hard to his backhand side. It was a line drive with top spin that became almost a sinking line drive to pretty much straightaway center field."
The defensive woes continued in the fourth. After Kevin Youkilis led off with a double to right field, Jose Bautista's throw back into the infield bounced away from Yunel Escobar at second base, and with nobody backing up the play, Youkilis easily advanced to third.
Youkilis eventually scored on a double-play ball for the only unearned run of Drabek's night. The 24-year-old allowed five runs overall on six hits and struck out four in 6 2/3 innings.
The outing was far from perfect but still a step in the right direction following Drabek's previous start, in which he surrendered a career-high nine runs.
At least for one game, the final pitching line didn't do him justice.
"It was really just one pitch to each batter that I left either down the middle or in a good area for them to hit it," Drabek said of the second inning.
The issues with his performance were once again related to overall command of the strike zone, as he walked four and started just 12 of the 28 batters he faced with strikes. He has now walked 41 batters in 62 innings, which places him second in the Majors behind Cleveland's Ubaldo Jimenez.
"I thought he worked better as the game got on," third baseman Brett Lawrie said. "I think early, we had a couple of things that went against us. But at the same time, I can't emphasize enough getting strike one over. [It's important] being able to throw strikes early in counts and being able to be in control, because when you get down in counts, you have to serve stuff up, and sure enough, they hit balls hard tonight.
"I mean, when you get yourself into 3-1 counts, 2-0 counts, 2-1 counts, it's tough to battle back, especially against a team like this. A team that has gotten hot over the past little bit here, you've got to be able to make pitches in certain situations. I felt like he did a better job as the game went on, but early, I think, they got us early."
Jeff Mathis opened the scoring for the Blue Jays in the bottom of the third inning with a solo home run off the top of the wall in right-center. Toronto added one in the fourth on Kelly Johnson's RBI single, and Bautista recorded his 13th homer off Red Sox starter Felix Doubront in the fifth.
That snapped a seven-game homerless drought for Bautista, who now has 10 home runs since the start of May. The Blue Jays had multiple chances against Doubront, but the left-hander limited the club to going 2-for-5 with runners in scoring position while stranding six runners.
Doubront allowed just the three runs -- two earned -- on seven hits while striking out seven in 6 1/3 innings. He won for the fifth time in his past six starts while surrendering three runs or fewer for a second consecutive outing against Toronto.
"I felt pretty good," Doubront said. "Sometimes I feel like I didn't follow through with all my pitches in the first inning, but I started to make an adjustment."
The Blue Jays' home record has dropped to 15-12, and all of a sudden, the club finds itself dead last in the AL East despite an above-.500 mark (27-26). They will attempt to avoid being swept for the second time in its past three series on Sunday.
"It's just a number," Lawrie said of the standings. "We're not out by 10 games, we're out by, like, [3 1/2] at the most. [There's] a lot of baseball to be played still, plenty of baseball to play. Can't be worried about the numbers right now."