BOSTON — The Red Sox found themselves giving a team extra outs again on Thursday in a 5-4 loss to drop the four-game series to the Cleveland Guardians at Fenway Park.

Boston committed two more errors in a game where the pitching staff allowed just two earned runs. The issue spans most of the season, though the Red Sox particularly felt the impact at home.

“It’s hard,” Alex Cora told reporters after the loss. “It sounds repetitive when we say it’s full of (expletive). We need to play better defense. That’s the bottom line. There were two routine plays we didn’t make. We didn’t turn the double play. We lose by one. Gotta keep going.”

Cora acknowledged that injuries have forced a shuffle of positions over the stretch of declining defensive play. Losing a Gold-Glove caliber shortstop in Trevor Story obviously started this significant trend. This week’s injuries to Tyler O’Neill and Rafael Devers have only added to the difficulty of how the Red Sox align defensively.

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While temporary fixes on a day-to-day basis such as giving Ceddanne Rafaela time at shortstop can patch together a performance, the Red Sox must find consistency with the gloves to break free from the back-and-forth 10-10 start to 2024.

“They’re good defenders,” Cora said. “We’re not making plays right now.”

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The Red Sox have committed 20 errors and allowed 24 unearned runs through 20 games, leading the sport in both categories.

Here’s more notes from Thursday’s Guardians-Red Sox game:

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— Boston played without Tyler O’Neill, who was placed on the 7-day IL prior to Thursday’s game.

— The Red Sox went 3-7 on their first and longest homestand of the 2024 season.

— Justin Slaten impressed again for Boston, tossing two scoreless frames. It marked his fourth scoreless appearance of at least two or more innings this season.

— Brennan Bernardino did his job with two shutout innings as the opener. Bernardino posted a 2.00 ERA in six appearances as an opener last season for Boston.

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— Jarren Duran jumped into the American League lead with seven stolen bases.

— The Red Sox hit the road, beginning with a three-game set in Pittsburgh against the Pirates on Friday night. First pitch is set for 6:40 p.m. ET. You can catch the game, plus an hour of pregame coverage, on NESN.

Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images