BOSTON -- There wasn't much afterglow for the Red Sox following Jarrod Saltalamacchia's game-tying, two-out, two-run homer in the ninth on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
The Orioles took the lead right back against Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves in the 10th and defeated the Sox, 8-6.
The loss by Aceves capped a rough night for Boston's bullpen, which couldn't hold a 4-3 lead that starter Jon Lester left with in the seventh.
"It's just part of the job," said Aceves. "[Forget] it. Tomorrow we win. Tomorrow and the next day. We have to win the series. That's what we've been talking about since Spring Training. You're going to have bad days."
The Red Sox's bullpen had been an overwhelming strength for the past several weeks, which made Tuesday's mishap all the more surprising.
Lester was lifted after giving up a single to Endy Chavez to open the top of the seventh. He threw 99 pitches and left with a one-run lead.
"I just thought our bullpen -- after [Lester] gave up a hit to a left-hander -- had enough," said manager Bobby Valentine. "It just didn't work out. Jon threw the ball pretty well."
By the time the inning was over, relievers Scott Atchison and Matt Albers had put Boston in a two-run deficit.
Atchison entered the night with an 0.86 ERA and hadn't allowed a run in 15 straight outings, but he gave up two hits and two runs.
"It's been a good run," said Atchison. "You kind of notice it after awhile that it's been awhile, but it's over now. Get back out there tomorrow and try to start another one. That's kind of the best way I think to do it, and that's what I plan to do."
Albers couldn't get Atchison out of the jam, allowing RBI hits to the first two batters he faced.
J.J. Hardy tied the game with an RBI single off Atchison. Mark Reynolds and Steve Pearce gave Baltimore a two-run lead with RBI singles against Albers.
"I made an all-right pitch to [Robert] Andino. He kind of blooped it into right and the next pitch to Hardy got a little more of the plate probably than I wanted and he did a good job of hitting," Atchison said. "I guess sooner or later it was probably going to happen. Unfortunately it happened tonight with the one-run lead right there, but the guys did a great job of battling back. We just weren't able to quite pull it out, but everything felt the same as it has been."
The Red Sox didn't go away quietly. David Ortiz gave his team life with a one-out single off the Monster in the ninth. Up stepped Saltalamacchia, who deposited closer Jim Johnson's 1-2 pitch just over the Monster to tie the game at 6.
Coming back against Johnson was no small feat. The righty had converted 25 straight save opportunities dating back to last season.
"There was an ebb and flow there," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "I think it's a given that Boston's going to be very competitive in this division."
The 28-27 Red Sox are in fifth place in the American League East, but just three games behind the Orioles and Rays, who hold a share of first.
Meanwhile, the Red Sox have a player in Saltalamacchia who is not only taking his game to another level, but getting it done with the game on the line.
On May 26, he hit a walk-off homer against the Rays. This hit was nearly as big, only it came in a losing effort.
"I don't think you ever feel like you're going to succeed like that every time," said Saltalamacchia. "You've got a guy on the mound who throws hard who's trying to get you out. He's not just going to lay it over the plate for you. In that at-bat, I was just trying to put the ball in play and keep the inning going any way I can. If it's a single, if it's a double, if it's anything, keep the inning going and pass the torch to the next guy."
Reynolds opened Baltimore's winning rally with a leadoff walk. Steve Pearce moved Reynolds to second with a bunt. Ronny Paulino put the Orioles in front with an RBI single up the middle. Endy Chavez provided an insurance run with an RBI single to right.
"Chavez did hit it well. They are really good hitters over there," Aceves said. "We just have to make our pitches. Unfortunately we don't [always] get the results we want. Leadoff walk? Oh yeah. I was thinking that today with the walks. I pitched behind in the count. Every batter you walk, they are going to score."
Scott Podsednik gave the Red Sox their first lead at 4-3 on a sacrifice fly in the sixth.
But Lester gave up that hit to open the seventh, and the lead turned into a deficit shortly thereafter.
"I mean, any time you come out of a game, it's tough," Lester said. "Like you said, our bullpen has been great. A little hiccup tonight -- no big deal. Next time we're in that situation, they'll pick me up. That's the way baseball goes. Obviously I'm not worried about it. Just one of those deals. Like I said, Atch will pick me up next time."