After throwing what John Farrell termed "32 stressful pitches" and allowing five runs in the ninth inning Wednesday night, Joel Hanrahan may not be available to pitch tonight.

But Farrell isn't equivocating about the Red Sox' closer situation.

"He’s our closer," Farrell said after a brief meeting with Hanrahan and pitching coach Juan Nieves this afternoon. "We talked more about going forward."

Going forward, Hanrahan will have to exhibit better command if he's going to have greater success in the ninth inning. Control was an issue for Hanrahan during the latter part of last season, too. With the Pirates falling out of contention in the NL wild-card race, Hanrahan walked 14 batters in his final 14 innings after Aug. 17, but still went 3-for-4 in save opportunities and posted a 3.21 ERA.

But as Hanrahan has found out, good American League teams aren't as forgiving. A two-out single to Ryan Flaherty, back-to-back walks to Nolan Reimold and Nate McLouth and a wild pitch preceded Manny Machado's decisive three-run home run and helped to turn a 5-3 Red Sox lead into an 8-5 Orioles advantage.

After three consecutive scoreless appearances to open the season, Hanrahan has allowed six runs on five hits, including three homers, and two walks in his last two outings.

"To me, location is the most important thing," Nieves said. "His stuff is good enough. He throws 99 mph with the great slider. The consistency of that has to be a little better. Big-league hitters feed off poorly located fastballs and poorly located breaking balls. That’s why they get paid a lot of money, that’s why he gets paid a lot of money. Basically, it’s the challenge of seeing the glove and hitting the glove more often than not."