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Red Sox hitting woes continue as Valbuena's sacrifice fly in 9th gives Cubs 2-1 victory

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BOSTON - The struggling Boston Red Sox don't create many offensive opportunities, so they can't afford to waste the ones they get.

They did that too often Tuesday night.

"You've just got to keep fighting," Dustin Pedroia said after a 2-1 loss to the Chicago Cubs. "You've got to believe it's going to turn around."

In their last five games, the Red Sox have been shut out twice and held to two runs or fewer four times. One night after going hitless for the first 7 2-3 innings against Jake Arrieta in a 2-0 loss, they started a lineup with the last three batters hitting .207 or less. And the No. 6 hitter, Xander Bogaerts, ended the game hitless in his last 19 at-bats.

"It gets a little frustrating at times, particularly with the number of opportunities we continue to create," Boston manager John Farrell said. "And that's the thing that we have to continue to focus on internally, is that the opportunities are there and yet at times we're not cashing in."

The Red Sox left 10 runners on base, including three in the fifth inning when they scored their only run.

But they still went into the ninth tied 1-all before Anthony Rizzo scored the go-ahead run on Luis Valbuena's sacrifice fly. Then he endured some uncertain moments in the bottom of the inning before he could celebrate.

Rizzo and his Cubs teammates lingered on the field until a replay review confirmed the on-field decision: He had caught Valbuena's throw from third base to first on a grounder in time to get Pedroia for the final out.

"It was nerve-wracking," Rizzo said, "especially with Big Papi coming up."

Had the call been overturned, David Ortiz would have batted with runners at first and second and two outs.

"I didn't even see the replay," said Pedroia, who gestured in frustration after crossing the bag. "I feel like I was right there. It was bang-bang. I don't know."

Rizzo started the ninth with a single, went to third on a double by Starlin Castro and scored on Valbuena's sac fly against Koji Uehara (3-2).

"Oh, gosh, what a great at-bat," Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. "He fell behind (and) was just still able to put enough of the barrel on the baseball to get it deep enough to score the run."

Pedro Strop (1-3) pitched a perfect eighth and Hector Rondon worked the ninth for his 11th save in 13 chances.

Boston wasted more dominant home pitching.

For the 14th straight game at Fenway Park, the Red Sox allowed no more than three runs, extending their franchise record. The last longer streak in the American League was 15 games by the Chicago White Sox, the last game in 1966 and the first 14 in 1967.

The Red Sox took a 1-0 lead in the fifth against Edwin Jackson. Jackie Bradley Jr. doubled and scored from third on a single by Pedroia.

The Cubs tied it in the sixth after going hitless against Clay Buchholz since Chris Coghlan led off the game with a single.

"Both Jax and Buchholz were grinding it out against each other," Renteria said.

Justin Ruggiano started the sixth with a double, moved to third on a single by Darwin Barney and scored when Coghlan grounded into a force play at second base. Ryan Sweeney's single put runners at first and third, but the threat ended when Rizzo lined out to first baseman Mike Napoli, who stepped on first to double up Sweeney.

Chicago threatened again in the seventh when a single by Castro, a passed ball and a hit batter put runners at first and third with one out. Andrew Miller replaced Buchholz and struck out pinch-hitter Junior Lake and Ruggiano to end the inning.

NOTES: Boston used an all-rookie outfield of LF Brock Holt, CF Bradley and RF Betts. Holt played only the infield in limited time in the majors the past two seasons. Betts was mostly a minor league second baseman but has played only the outfield in his three games since being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket. ... Jackson pitched six innings, just the second time he's lasted that long in his last eight starts. ... The Red Sox sent LHP Rich Hill from Triple-A Pawtucket to the Los Angeles Angels for cash and released LHP Chris Capuano, who was designated for assignment last Wednesday. ... Travis Wood (7-6) faces Boston's Brandon Workman (1-1) on Wednesday night in the finale of the three-game interleague series.

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