Game over: Big innings power Sox
The Sox began the day with a two-game lead in the AL wild-card race, and ended the day with a two-game lead. Three big innings -- a four-run first, five-run third, and seven-run seventh -- helped the Sox win for just the third time in 13 games. The runs and hits match a season-high.
In the ninth, with Bowden back on the mound, Josh Bell, hitting for Markakis, hits a dribbler that Varitek scoops up and throws to first. Guerrero singles over the head of McDonald in right, Kyle Hudson (hitting for Davis) strikes out, and Pedro Florimon, who had replaced Andino, reaches on an error by Anderson. Reimold fouls out to Varitek, ending the game.
End of 8th: Red Sox 18, Orioles 9
Kevin Gregg now pitching. Jose Iglesias, pinch-hitting for Scutaro, singles leading off. Anderson strikes out, and Mike Aviles, in for Pedroia, fouls out to Tatum.
And now, ladies and gentlemen ... the main event: Gregg against Ortiz. The last time these two met at Fenway, Ortiz charged the mound, both took big swings that missed, and both were subsequently suspended by the American League. It ends much nicer this time, with Ortiz walking.
Lowrie ends the inning by flying out to right.
Middle of 8th: Red Sox 18, Orioles 9
Michael Bowden now pitching. Adams flies to left, Tatum lines out softly to Scutaro, and after a walk to Angle, Jake Fox (pinch-hitting for Hardy) flies to left.
End of 7th: Red Sox 18, Orioles 9
Inside-the-park home run by Ellsbury! He sends a 2-2 pitch from Phillips deep to center, with the ball bouncing off the bullpen wall and heading toward left field. Ellsbury never stopped running, and made it safely home without benefit of a slide. It's his 28th home run of the season, but first inside-the-park dinger of his career. The last Sox player to hit one: Kevin Youkilis, who did it May 28, 2007, at Fenway against Cleveland. Scutaro singles to left, Gonzalez singles off the Wall, and Pedroia singles to right, scoring Scutaro. That's all for Phillips, who gets yanked for Clay Rapada. Ortiz walks, loading the bases and bringing in yet another Orioles pitcher, Brad Bergesen. Lowrie rifles one under Adams's glove, scoring Lars Anderson, who pinch ran for Gonzalez, and keeping the bases loaded. Jackson proceeds to unload the bases with his first home run as a member of the Red Sox, a grand slam into the Monster seats. It's his second career grand slam: the first came earlier this year when he was with Oakland. Varitek strikes out (that's four whiffs for him tonight), McDonald flies to right, and Ellsbury, who began the inning with the inside-the-park homer, grounds to third. Seven runs should be enough, with the lead now nine.
Middle of 7th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 9
Morales strikes out Davis, then gets replaced by Matt Albers. Andino strikes out looking, and Reimold does the same. Three outs via the K, and the Sox head to the dugout looking for their first hit since the third inning.
End of 6th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 9
Jeremy Accardo pitching for the Orioles. Jackson pops out to Andino, Varitek strikes out, and McDonald flies out to Angle, who makes a nice running catch in right-center.
Middle of 6th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 9
Angle bounces to Gonzalez, who flips to Atchison. The throw beats Angle, but Atchison drops the ball. First-base umpire Chris Guccione initially signals Angle out, bringing Orioles manager Buck Showalter out. After the umpires huddle, the call is reversed, which prompts Francona to come out for a chat. We're seeing a little bit of everything tonight. Hardy grounds to Scutaro, who starts a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play. Francona still makes a pitching change, bringing in Franklin Morales. Atchison was efficient, if nothing else. He threw just five pitches, but recorded four outs, inducing two double-play grounders. Morales promptly walks Markakis. Guerrero doubles in Markakis with a liner over McDonald's head in right, but tries to stretch it into a triple, and gets thrown out by about 5 feet.
End of 5th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 8
Scutaro grounds to second, followed by walks to Gonzalez (he's reached all four times tonight) and Pedroia. Pitching change for Baltimore: Berken out, Zach Phillips in. Ortiz flies out to center, as does Lowrie.
Two straight innings where the Sox don't score. No more Lackey, but is a three-run lead safe?
Middle of 5th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 8
Davis hits a towering fly to left that Jackson leaps for and can't catch, resulting in a double. Andino sends a dribbler down the third-base line, which Lowrie fields and flips to Scutaro, but Davis beats him to the bag. Reimold scores Davis with a sacrifice fly. Adams sends the first pitch into center, scoring Andino. That brings Terry Francona out, ending Lackey's night. The Fenway crowd lets Lackey know exactly how they feel. Scott Atchison comes on in relief, and needs just one pitch to get two outs. Tatum grounds to Lowrie, who starts a 5-4-3 double play. Lackey's line: 4 1/3 innings, 11 hits, eight runs, all earned, two walks, three strikeouts.
End of 4th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 6
Jackson leads off with a walk, Varitek strikes out, and McDonald grounds out to the pitcher. Ellsbury bounces hard to Andino, who makes a great defensive play.
For the first time in four tries, Orioles pitchers retire the Sox without allowing any runs. Hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day.
Middle of 4th: Red Sox 11, Orioles 6
Tatum strikes out, Angle singles and steals second. Hardy bounces to Lowrie at third, and Markakis smokes a liner over the head of Gonzalez and into the right-field corner for a run-scoring triple. Guerrero flies out to McDonald in right.
We're on pace for about 45 runs and 55 hits, and the game might not end before midnight.
End of 3rd: Red Sox 11, Orioles 5
Lowrie walks, and after Jackson lines out to center, Lowrie steals his first base of the season. Varitek strikes out swinging, and McDonald grounds to Hardy at short, who short-hops his throw to first, which gets away from Davis, scores Lowrie, and sends McDonald to second. Give McDonald a single, and Hardy an error that allowed McDonald to take second. Ellsbury doubles off the Wall, scoring McDonald. Scutaro follows with another single, plating Ellsbury. Gonzalez gives the Sox four straight hits, a single that prompts the Orioles to make a pitching change: Chris Jakubauskas is out, Jason Berken is in. Pedroia makes it five straight hits, singling in Scutaro and sending Gonzalez to third. Ortiz gets into the act, dribbling a roller to second that he beats out. Gonzalez scores, and the Sox have batted around. Lowrie, who started the inning with a walk, ends it with a strikeout.
Can Lackey hold a six-run lead? We'll find out.
Middle of 3rd: Red Sox 6, Orioles 5
Sox produce a few web gems, with Pedroia diving to his left to take a hit away from Hardy, and Jackson fully extending to his right to rob Markakis. Lackey strikes out Guerrero, but the third strike gets away from Varitek, allowing Guerrero to reach first. A hit-and-run (courtesy of Davis) puts runners on the corners, and a walk to Andino loads the bases. A flare by Reimold just eludes Pedroia and scores Guerrero and Davis. Lackey strikes out Adams to end an inning that started with promise, but encountered a few bumps.
End of 2nd: Red Sox 6, Orioles 3
Varitek walks, advances to second on a single by McDonald, and takes third on a fly to center by Ellsbury. Scutaro doubles in Varitek, but McDonald gets caught between third and home, with the putout officially 7-5-2. In McDonald's defense, it appeared third-base coach Tim Bogar was unclear if he wanted to send the runner or hold him up. An intentional walk to Gonzalez ends Matusz's night after just 1 2/3 innings and 49 pitches. Pedroia singles in Scutaro, but Ortiz ends the inning when he grounds to first.
Middle of 2nd: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3
Adams singles to left, but Lackey starts a 1-4-3 double play by fielding a comebacker by Tatum. Angle grounds out to Scutaro.
End of 1st: Red Sox 4, Orioles 3
Ellsbury leads off with a single, and after Scutaro flies out, moves to third on a single by Gonzalez. Pedroia hits a hard grounder gloved by Andino, who forces out Gonzalez, scoring Ellsbury. Ortiz narrowly misses a two-run home run, doubling high off the Wall and sending Pedroia to third. Unlike Ortiz, Lowrie's shot easily clears the Wall; the only question was whether it'd be fair. It is, scoring Pedroia and Ortiz in front of him and giving the Sox their first lead of the day. Jackson pops out.
Middle of 1st: Orioles 3, Red Sox 0
Angle ropes Lackey's second pitch into center for a single, and steals second one pitch before Hardy walks. Markakis follows with a sharp single to right, which scores Angle and sends Hardy to third. Guerrero hits another ball hard, this one at McDonald in right, and Hardy's slick tag barely beats Varitek's mitt. Markakis steals second, and scores when Davis singles to right. McDonald's throw easily beats Markakis to the plate, but Varitek can't hang on to the ball. Moans and groans throughout Fenway. Andino grounds out to Lowrie, but Davis takes third. Reimold fouls out to Gonzalez.
Pregame: Some nervous energy permeating throughout Fenway tonight as the Red Sox and Orioles get set to play their second game. The big board has already been updated with this afternoon's 6-5 Baltimore win: Factoring in the Yankees' 6-4 win over Minnesota, the Sox find themselves 5 1/2 games behind New York in the American League East, and 1 1/2 games up on Tampa Bay in the wild-card standings. Maybe John Lackey can give the Sox a quality start and help his team earn an all-important split.
We're still an hour from the start of the second game today, but here are the lineups:
CF Matt Angle
SS J.J. Hardy
RF Nick Markakis
DH Vladimir Guerrero
1B Chris Davis
3B Robert Andino
LF Nolan Reimold
2B Ryan Adams
C Craig Tatum
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
SS Marco Scutaro
1B Adrian Gonzalez
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
3B Jed Lowrie
LF Conor Jackson
C Jason Varitek
RF Darnell McDonald
John Lackey (12-12, 6.19 ERA) will be the starting pitcher, and he'll be opposed by Brian Matusz (1-7, 9.84).