Manager Terry Francona was talking about the weather yesterday when he said, "it got sloppy" and "it finally just got to the point where it was getting out of control."

He could just as easily have been talking about John Lackey's start, which pointed out for the second consecutive day that the back end of a rotation can look pretty bad, even on a very good baseball team.

Lackey delivered the second decisively bad start in a row for the Red Sox, bringing into sharp focus the startling fact that they lost two out of three games at home to the last-place San Diego Padres.

The way-too-wet weather — there were four rain delays totaling 2:24, almost as long as the actual 2:49 time of game — created a sloppy track for both teams in the 5-1, rain-shortened (71/2 innings) loss but it was Lackey who could not keep up or compete with Padres starter Clayton Richard.

And just like Alfredo Aceves imploded with a five-consecutive walk second inning on Tuesday night, Lackey had his own meltdown in the fourth, when six of the seven batters he faced reached base to create a four-run surge that gave the Padres all the cushion they needed.

"He went back out after the rain delay and just looked like he lost his feel," said Francona, this time speaking specifically about Lackey. "I don't think the conditions were very good for either pitcher but he just lost his command and it cost us some runs."

Lackey wound up giving up five runs on four hits and four walks in his 31/3 innings.

On Tuesday, Aceves lasted five innings, walking six and allowing four runs.