Melvin standing by Qualls

Melvin standing by Qualls

BOSTON -- To D-backs pitching coach Bryan Price, circumstances came together in the worst way possible in the eighth inning on Tuesday night.

"It was a perfect storm," Price said.

It was the inning in which a 4-1 D-backs lead turned into a 5-4 deficit, mainly thanks to reliever Chad Qualls being unable to put the brakes on things after starter Doug Davis allowed back-to-back singles to start the frame.

Dustin Pedroia got things started against Qualls by fighting off a pitch for an RBI single to right-center. Then, after he retired both J.D. Drew and Manny Ramirez, Qualls gave up a two-run double off the Green Monster to Mike Lowell on a pitch that was down and in rather than the planned down and away.

"They took advantage of the mistakes," Price said. "The mistake pitches were the ones that Pedroia hit, that Lowell hit and that [Jason] Varitek hit, and those were the three mistakes. They took advantage of what, I think, little he gave them. He threw 19 of 24 pitches for strikes, he got ahead of four of the six hitters."

In other words, it wasn't as bad as the results indicated, and manager Bob Melvin is still very much in the right-hander's corner.

"We still are confident in him," Melvin said. "He has some struggles, but earlier in the year, he was as good as anybody we've had."

Qualls has had two poor outings in a row, including last Saturday against the Twins in the Metrodome, but in 14 outings prior to that, he had a 1.35 ERA and held opponents to a .111 average. In those games, he allowed four of eight inherited runners to score.

In his past two outings, he's given up five earned runs in just one inning and has allowed all four inherited runners to score.

"He's had some games like that, where he's given up hits in bulk and runs in bulk, and other games where he's dominated with exactly the same stuff," Price said. "The thing is, you always want to find an answer, but the thing is, it's baseball, and over the course of a long season, you have periods like this. You have games that are disappointing, and you have games where you think your team plays very well and you still lose."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.