An infuriating loss. But one that leads me to the following conclusion:

Edgar Renteria will be the hero of the postseason.

Write that down. Store it away in your Trapper Keeper or breadbox or whatever household device you feel worthy of such prognostication. But do it now.

I say this only because the law of averages dictates that the massive amounts of “suck” that have been oozing from every pore of his body as the Sox barrel down the stretch run have got to, at some point, give way to nothing but goodness. Slick plays, the occasional airborne snare, a timely hit or two. So when I toss an ice cold Hamm’s at the TV screen, as I did last night after watching Edgah err yet again, allowing what proved to be the winning run to score — I do it more out of love and concern than pure anger.

A turnaround has to happen. Edgar is a good player. We know this. We also know that he is far, far better than his league leading 29th error would indicate. Some of it has to be chalked up to the adjustment to the madness that is Fenway Park. Seriously, has there ever been a guy who seemed more terrified out on the Fenway green than l’il Edgah? Dude looks like he’d rather be nose-deep in Charles Durning than endure another hail of boos from the crowd. I’m not expecting him to get all Spiderman on us and start scaling walls, but Jesus, even Mike friggin’ Lansing would dive for a ball every once in a while, and he was made entirely of wood.

There were some positives to be extracted from last night’s game, of course. In his major league debut, Craig Hansen looked stellar, working 97-mph heat and getting me all hot and bothered for what next year might hold. And, of course, more magic from Ortiz, who went 2-for-4 with another home run and 4 RBIs. Suddenly, Papi is like that big freakin’ dog in The Neverending Story who let people flop on his back as he flew them to crazy and exotic lands [just work with me, people]. His badness of ass is unquestionable, his hugeness of heart is remarkable, and his respect for the game in this magical Barry Bonds era is admirable. Also, looks good in a Kangol.

Bottom line: My feeling is that seeing our AL East lead sliced to a measly one-half game will bring out the best in everyone. Beginning tonight.

Because, really, it has to.