BOSTON -- It wasn't a terrible appearance for the Red Sox bullpen on Friday night at Fenway Park. But it wasn't good enough.
But if you're going to point a finger following Boston's 6-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles in 13 innings, then that finger would ultimately be pointed at left-hander Franklin Morales, who picked up his first loss of the season after allowing two runs in the top of the 13th that gave Baltimore its first lead of the game.
Morales entered the game in the top of the 12th, and relieved Alfredo Aceves with a runner on second and two outs. He was able to get out of the jam and got Nick Markakis to fly out to left field, ending the inning with the game still tied at 4-4.
But the 13th inning was a different story, as Morales let up a Matt Wieters single and then walked Wilson Betemit, all with one out.
With runners on first and second, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis singled to right field, scoring Wieters from second and advancing Betemit to third.
Scott Atchison then came in to relieve Morales, but the first batter he faced -- Mark Reynolds -- drove in an insurance run with a sacrifice fly to center field to make it 6-4.
"Morales got the big out in the 12th inning, then came in again," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine after the loss. "Then he gave up a changeup base-hit, a 3-2 walk, and a ground ball through the infield.
"It wasn't a terrible appearance, that's for sure. But he gave up two runs."
Those two runs cost the Red Sox their third-straight game. That, combined with the fact that it truly wasn't a terrible performance by his bullpen, was all the more frustrating.
That frustration was evident following the game, as Valentine sat in his office chair, lid off, head back, and his eyes closed.
Had Morales got out of the 13th inning, he had Atchison ready to go three innings. And prior to that, he can't say he made the wrong decisions, given the bullpen arms he's dealing with.
Vicente Padilla and Rich Hill were able to get out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs -- that Padilla put them in -- by only allowing one run in the seventh. It tied the game at 4-4, but still, it didn't end the game.
Then, Matt Albers and Aceves combined for 4.2 scoreless innings of work, while allowing only two hits and one walk, while striking out six.
Albers had the walk, but stormed through the eighth and ninth innings.
Aceves allowed the two hits, but was one out away from going three full innings, and struck out six batters, including the first five hitters he faced.
"Aceves came in with a lot of rest, and was a man on a mission," said Valentine. "He and Matt Albers were lights out. They were terrific. They did everything that they could possibly do."
What they couldn't do was drive in runs for Boston's offense. And while it wasn't a terrible night for the Red Sox bullpen, they were the ones to crack first.
And that's all that matters.
"It doesn't count for nothing, man," said Aceves on his dominant night out of the bullpen. "We lost. We need to win. They're in second place, and we couldn't hold the lead. We just have to forget about this game, and come back Saturday with the same approach, work hard, and hopefully we're going to get the result that we want."