Red Sox show a little life
They rally past Orioles with six runs in seventh
BALTIMORE — By the time the baseball dropped into the seats, just beyond the grasp of Felix Pie, it seemed the atmosphere in the ballpark had changed. There were cheers, all over the park, cheers as the suddenly-playing-for-their-season Red Sox moved into a sizable lead in the seventh inning. So much for the Orioles, playing their best ball of the season under Buck Showalter. This was a last chance for the Sox.
And even though it seemed dire early, as the Orioles scored four runs off Jon Lester in the first inning and another in the second, the seventh signaled a rebirth. Not that it’s likely to mean much in the grand scheme of things.
All the Sox did, really, was keep pace in the division and wild-card races with their 9-6 win at Camden Yards, as the Yankees and Rays also won last night. The win ended the Sox’ three-game losing streak.
“It’s always good when you come back to win games,’’ Victor Martinez said. “We never quit. We played the first inning right through to the ninth inning because you never know what can happen. We do have a lot of pride on this team. We don’t care what people think about us. We’re gonna keep playing hard.’’
Although Adrian Beltre’s three-run homer was the crowning achievement of the six-run seventh, this game was just as much about what Lester did as it was about the sudden burst of offense. Because even though he had little going early, fighting with himself and the mound, Lester managed to get through six innings, enough to improve to 13-0 lifetime against the Orioles.
“The first inning was a tough inning,’’ manager Terry Francona said. “We’re already warming up [Robert] Manuel in the first inning. That’s not an easy way to win a game. [Lester] didn’t look comfortable. Saw him checking the mound, came out of his delivery, was kind of rushing through it. Then he found a way to harness his stuff and actually went through some periods there where he was locked in.’’
Never more so than against Julio Lugo in the sixth. With Lester well over 100 pitches and the bases loaded, Lugo came to the plate. He left three pitches later, swinging at a curveball, Lester’s 120th and final pitch.
And that was after Lester thought he might not make it through the third.
“Early on, I didn’t really have a feel for what was going on,’’ he said. “I don’t really know how to explain it. The pitches were the same. It seemed like they were trying to ambush a little bit and swing at some first pitches, knowing that I like to throw first-pitch fastballs.’’
Lester said that Camden Yards is normally one of his favorite places to pitch. It wasn’t last night. “For some reason, it was kind of like a rainstorm came through early on, the beginning of the game it was wet,’’ he said. “I had some clumps on the bottom of my shoe. I was slipping a little bit.’’
Lester allowed four runs in the first, as the Orioles loaded the bases on two singles and a hit batsman for Adam Jones, who doubled home two runs. The Orioles got another on a wild pitch, a ball Lester said he shouldn’t have thrown, and another on Pie’s double to right.
Baltimore added another run in the second, as Ty Wigginton singled home Lugo. That got Manuel up again, as Lester continued to pitch ineffectively.
That changed. Lester got better as the innings went on, finishing with that punch out of Lugo, who would have been his last batter no matter what. But Lester got Lugo, and after the game called the win the team’s rather than his.
Perhaps getting out of the jam gave the offense a boost, as the Sox erased a 5-3 deficit.
“We were able to put it together when we needed to,’’ Beltre said. “We had some big hits. It’s a huge win for us. We need to take advantage of every situation like that because we need to win as many games as possible.’’
The Sox’ comeback started with a pinch-hit single by Darnell McDonald, which was followed by a home run by Marco Scutaro, whose poor throw cast him as the goat in Tuesday night’s loss.
Scutaro’s two-run shot into the seats in left tied the game at 5-5 and brought up J.D. Drew. The right fielder walked, then came around to score the tie-breaking run on Martinez’s double.
And then came that home run. After the Orioles elected to intentionally walk David Ortiz to face the Sox’ best hitter of 2010, that hitter made them pay. Beltre hit his 24th home run of the season to left, bringing the Sox’ lead to four, 9-5.
“He’s been getting big hits the whole season,’’ Francona said. “He’s a really good player having a really good year. He’s kind of settled in and been tremendous for us.’’
It was a win. And while it didn’t move them up in the standings, it was something right amid far too much that has gone wrong of late.
“We had to,’’ Francona said. “I don’t think I’ve ever questioned whether we’re going to play. I didn’t think last night we didn’t. You can draw up all the clichés about having heart and this team never quits, because that’s always what the team that wins does. Just think that’s why you play and play and play, and hopefully you’re good enough.’’