TORONTO -- Hoping to build off their first win of the season, the Red Sox instead fell back a step on Tuesday night, as Daniel Bard's debut in the rotation resulted in a 7-3 loss to the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre.
Bard worked five-plus innings, giving up eight hits and five runs, walking one and striking out six. The righty felt snake-bitten on a night the Blue Jays placed a lot of their hits well against him, just one of which went for extra bases.
There will be some nights when work like that will keep an offensive-minded team like the Red Sox in the ballgame, but this wasn't one of them, as manager Bobby Valentine's team had a flat performance with the bats.
By the time Boston rallied for two in the top of the ninth, it was too late.
"Bard pitched as well as most of our starters, except maybe [Jon] Lester," said Valentine. "He gave up eight hits, and seven of them were singles, broken-bat double down the left-field line. I think most of the singles were two strikes on inside fastballs. He pitched good enough to win if we scored some runs."
Kyle Drabek gave Toronto 5 1/3 innings, holding Boston to three hits and a run while walking three and striking out four.
It was Drabek's first start in the Majors since June 12, when the Red Sox shelled him for eight runs.
"He was spotting up pitches a lot better," said third baseman Kevin Youkilis. "He was commanding the zone. He kind of went in and out and knew where the ball was a little bit more than he used to. He got ahead and stayed ahead. He's got great stuff. When you have good stuff and command of pitches, it's tough to hit."
Bard was tough at times in his own right. In fact, when he exited in the sixth with two runners on and nobody out, his team was still in the game, down just 3-1.
But lefty Justin Thomas issued a walk, a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.
After the game, Valentine was kicking himself for not pulling Thomas after the walk to the left-handed-hitting Eric Thames and bringing in Matt Albers to face righty J.P. Arencibia with the bases loaded and nobody out.
It was Arencibia who struck the two-run single up the middle, forcing Valentine to be furious with himself.
"I should have brought in Albers with the bases loaded. It might have been still a 3-1 game," Valentine said. "We get a great ground ball there and maybe we would have won that game."
Why didn't Valentine bring in Albers?
"Just a dumb move," Valentine said.
Bard threw 96 pitches, 65 of them for strikes.
"It's easy to look at results. I think if you can look past that -- I'm just going through it in my head, I think they had six or seven ground ball hits," Bard said. "Say half of those get fielded, which is probably a normal night, that's probably three runs and about 30 pitches. So I'm probably pitching into the seventh giving up two runs. It's a totally different game.
"I'm looking at it that way. I feel good about how I threw it. The results obviously stunk. I recognize that and I'm frustrated with it. But I wouldn't change the way I threw."
With the Red Sox short-handed in the bullpen due to the right thumb injury of Andrew Bailey, there continues to be speculation that Bard could be moved back to a relief role.
That discussion is for another day. Right now, the Red Sox are just trying to win games, something they've done just once in their first five games entering Wednesday's road-trip finale.
As of now, Bard is expected to make his next scheduled start on Monday at Fenway against the Rays.
"His pitches were good -- very good," Valentine said. "You know, not quite the results we're looking for and he's a little disappointed. You take that 30 times a year, you're going to get a lot of wins out of it."
Bard began his rotation stint by allowing a first-pitch single to Yunel Escobar. With two outs, Adam Lind poked a double to left. Edwin Encarnacion hit an infield single into the hole at short, and the Jays had a 1-0 lead.
Toronto rallied again in the third. Lind drilled an RBI single up the middle, and Brett Lawrie's RBI single to right made it a 3-0 game.
Drabek silenced the Boston bats until the sixth. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with a walk and Dustin Pedroia smashed a double to left-center. Adrian Gonzalez came through with a sacrifice fly and the Sox were within two. It seemed Boston could chip away even more when David Ortiz drew a walk. But with Jason Frasor on for the Jays, Youkilis grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.
"He threw a splitter that kind of cut, went away. I thought it was going to come back over the plate and it cut away, so he made a good pitch," Youkilis said. "It seems like every time I face that guy, he makes some good pitches. He gave me one pitch to hit, I fouled it off, and that's the ball I should have driven in the gap."