Final: After dropping the first two games of the series, the Orioles avoided being swept by the Sox with a 3-2 win. Jim Johnson came on in the ninth to close the door. The Orioles lead the season series, taking seven of the 16 games so far. Six games still remain between the two teams
End of the eighth, Orioles 3 Red Sox 2: David Ortiz’s frustration after another empty at-bat — this time in a crucial situation with the tying run on third — was more than evident.
He went down waving at a Brian Matusz fastball, leaving Jacoby Ellsbury stranded (he was standing so far off third with the shift on Ortiz that he was only a few short strides from home.
With an 0 for 4 night, Ortiz is now hitless in his last 22 at-bats.
End of the seventh, Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: All quiet on both sides. Matt Thornton came on for Lester and pitched a scoreless inning. Chris Tillman came out for the seventh and hung another ‘0’
If there’s some light at the end of the tunnel for the Sox, it’s that Tillman’s day might be done. Tommy Hunter’s getting warm in the bullpen.
One staggering set of numbers: The Os have won 13 of Tillman’s past 17 starts.
End of the sixth, Orioles 3, Red Sox 2: Shane Victorino keeps flexing his muscles from the right side.
He took Chris Tillman deep to cut the Orioles lead to a single run.
Fun fact: The 66 total bases he’d racked up since July 30 coming into tonight are second in American League to … Miguel Cabrera.
End of the fifth, Orioles 3, Red Sox 1: When he saw Chris Davis’ long fly ball bounce off the Monster, Jon Lester surely knew he dodged a bullet.
It was dangerously close to being Davis’ 48th homer of the season. Instead, it ended up being an RBI double, driving in Adam Jones.
Lester hasn’t had his best stuff (only 64 of his 104 pitches have gone for strikes and command of his fastball has been inconsistent), but he’s hanging in, pitching into the sixth for the fifth straight start.
End of the fourth, Orioles 2, Red Sox 1: Chris Tillman seems to have settled in, sitting Daniel Nava (strikout looking), Jonny Gomes (ground ball to third) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (strikeout swinging) in order.
In three starts against the Sox this season, he’s only given up two extra base hits, including Nava’s double in the second.
Still, in his three starts at Fenway, he’s never factored into the decision even with a 1.65 ERA.
End of the third, Orioles 2, Red Sox 1: In an inning that could have been a lot uglier, Lester gave up three hits and two runs. The biggest was Manny Machado’s screamer off the Wall in left-center.
But that probably wasn’t the hardest-hit ball that inning. Matt Wieters sent another scorcher to center, this time toward the Red Sox bullpen.
The only thing that stopped it from being a two-run double was Shane Victorino gobbling up grass to chase it down at the track (he actually had to run into the Wall to put on the breaks).
Meanwhile, the Sox are 1 for 6 with runners in scoring position. With a strikeout and a sky out, David Ortiz is 0 for his last 20.
End of the second, Red Sox 1, Orioles 0: Daniel Nava’s bouncer through the left side of the infield embarrassed the Orioles shift. He was able to stretch it into a leadoff double after it rolled all the way into the left-field corner. The Orioles paid for it two batters later when Stephen Drew roped a single to right to score Nava and give the Sox the early lead.
Drew has either reached base or driven in a run in his last 12 starts.
Even after getting into a nine-pitch stare-down with JJ Hardy, Lester was able to hang a ‘0’ in the second using just 17 pitches. Matt Wieters, who has fared well in his career against Lester, sent a long and loud fly ball to center field but it lost steam near the warning track and Jacoby Ellsbury was able to track it down. For all his fighting, Hardy popped up to second, and Nick Markakis followed up with a tall pop up to third.
End of the first, Red Sox 0, Orioles 0: Save for the six-pitch walk to Manny Machado, Jon Lester looked sharp in the first. He started off three of the four batters he saw with strikes (sinkers and fastballs), getting Nate McLouth to pop up to second then striking out Adam Jones and Chris Davis swinging.
Lester left a few pitches on the fringes of the zone, but on most of them home plate umpire Tim McClelland was friendly to him, giving him the strike.
Pregame: One win away from sweeping the Orioles for the first time since 2011, the Sox have a chance to quiet a lot of the talk about the Orioles having their number the past two years.
They’ve won four straight and five of seven against the Os.
Having Jon Lester on the mound doesn’t hurt their chances. In his past two starts, he’s tossed 15.2 innings, giving up just one run.
The last time he faced Baltimore , he went seven scoreless innings, giving up just four hits and striking out eight.
His success, of course, starts with his fastball. In his past two starts, he’s throwing it on the first pitch 80 percent of the time to lefties and 74 percent to righties. On the whole, 57 percent of the pitches he’s thrown the past two times have been fastballs.
“It all center around his fastball command,” Farrell said. “He’s thrown a lot of early strikes. His first-pitch strike percentage has climbed or it’s been at the higher end of his range. I think he’s used his cutter in better situations to get a strike as opposed to a put-away pitch. I think more than anything strikes to his arm-side, particularly his fastball.”
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