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The Boston Red Sox went a bunt too far.
A night after Jackie Bradley Jr. squeezed in a run during the 11th inning of a win over the New York Yankees, Josh Rutledge popped up his bunt attempt at a key moment in a 4-1 loss Thursday night.
"It changed the dynamic of it, and truth be told, he was executing on his own," Boston interim manager Torey Lovullo said.
With revitalized Rich Hill (2-1) trailing 2-0, Deven Marrero and Sandy Leon opened the fifth inning with singles against CC Sabathia (6-10). Rutledge then bunted a 2-1 pitch into the air to catcher John Ryan Murphy.
After Mookie Betts singled in run, Bradley grounded out and Xander Bogaerts was intentionally walked, loading the bases. Travis Shaw flied out on Sabathia's final pitch.
"You just sometimes allow the players to do what they want to do and let them express themselves," Lovullo said. "He felt like he was in a comfortable situation to bunt. I can't quite walk up to home plate, get in his ear and tell him not to. ... I, of course, explained to him that once the at-bat turned around and got the count in his favor, we could have done a little damage."
Still down 2-1, Boston had another threat in the seventh when Rutledge singled off Adam Warren leading off and Betts sent a changeup deep to left field.
"Thought I had gotten it pretty good, and thought it had a chance to go," Betts said before adding: "but other plans were made."
Chris Young caught the ball on the warning track, and the Yankees went on to end Boston's season-high, six-game winning streak and clinch an AL wild-card berth. Still, Betts was 8 for 19 (.421) in the four-game series with three homers and five RBIs.
"We thought it was a home run," Lovullo said, "but the wind knocked it down."
Carlos Beltran homered along with rookies Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder on a drizzly, chilly evening. New York became the first AL team with 10,000 regular-season wins.
New York built a 2-0 lead in the second when Beltran hit his 19th homer, an opposite-field drive over the right-field scoreboard and No. 9 hitter Brendan Ryan singled in a run for his first RBI since July 31.
Hill, who revived his career this summer during a stint with the Long Island Ducks of the independent Atlantic League, struck out six in six innings against one of his former teams, allowing two runs and four hits. He has a 1.55 ERA in four starts with the Red Sox.
"If you look at the overall body of work, there was a lot to build off of from there and I'm looking forward to next year," the 35-year-old left-hander said.
Bird connected off Jean Machi in the bottom half, his 11th homer since his mid-August debut, and Refsnyder hit the second of his big league career against Heath Hembree in the eighth.
Boston (78-81) dropped into a last-place tie in the AL East with Tampa Bay and Baltimore.
"Won the first three games against a playoff team. I couldn't be more proud," Lovullo said. "We pressed it all the way to the limit. We wanted to win today, we weren't shutting down, we did our job, unfortunately, a couple of things didn't go our way."
Red Sox: DH David Ortiz did not play because general soreness and may not start in the final series this weekend. ... OF Rusney Castillo returned to the lineup after missing three games because of his right quadriceps and went 0 for 4.
Red Sox: Henry Owens (4-3) is set to start Friday at Cleveland, which goes with Josh Tomlin (6-2).
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