Hideki Okajima hasn’t known which way to turn. When it comes to the set-up men in his bullpen, Terry Francona probably feels the same way.

While Red Sox starting pitching is finally back in form — both in health and production — the bullpen is killing the season.

Okajima was the unsung hero of the 2007 season, using his unorthodox delivery to befuddle hitters as the bridge to Jonathan Papelbon.


Now, he is Eric Gagne, a lefty specialist who can’t get left-handed hitters out (.344 average against) and, as he proved Sunday, can’t do much better with the ball in his hands even after the batter swings.

After his latest meltdown, Okajima’s ERA stands at 5.81, having allowed 23 of 38 first batters to reach and eight of 22 inherited runners to score.

Manny Delcarmen, one of the bright spots of the season’s first half, has been equally horrendous since late June, having allowed 12 earned runs over his past seven outings, a total of 3 2/3 innings for an insane ERA of 29.45.

It’s up to Theo Epstein to use the final days before the trade deadline to fortify his leaky pen.

Toronto’s Scott Downs is a name rising up the rumor ladder. Downs, a lefthander with a 2.41 ERA in 46 appearances, will be a Type A free agent who could garner the Red Sox two draft picks after his two-month rental.

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