The Red Sox were never really threatened in a rather uneventful 3-1 win over the Orioles. Clay Buchholz pitched six strong innings, the bullpen was flawless and Baltimore didn’t have a runner reach third base after the fourth inning. The Orioles are a feeble team at this point playing out the string and Friday the Red Sox won without needing their best effort.
Jason Bay scored two runs before leaving the game after the fourth inning with flu-like symptoms and seldom-used Casey Kotchman collected three hits and raised his average 37 points. Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz were a combined 0-for-7 but the Red Sox were plenty good enough to beat Baltimore for the 14th time in 16 games.
Jonathan Papelbon comes on in the ninth to collect his 37th save and 25th career over the Orioles with a perfect ninth. It is the 11th straight game that Boston starters have yielded three runs or fewer and manager Terry Francona used the bullpen perfectly, each reliever tossing one inning after Clay Buchholz threw six innings.
Buchholz’s night is done and he worked an arduous six innings allowing one run and five hits, tossing 95 pitches with three walks and one strikeout. Buchholz has now allowed two earned runs over his past 20 innings pitched and has not allowed more than three in an outing since Aug. 23, a 1.57 ERA in that span of five starts.
Josh Reddick comes on to pinch hit for Jason Bay, who left the game with flu-like symptoms after the bottom of the fourth inning. Reddick finished off the bottom of the fifth by chasing down a sinking liner from Brian Roberts. He then punches a single through the right side to give the Sox a runner at first.
Two outs later, Reddick, running on the pitch, motored to third on a bloop single by Alex Gonzalez, Boston’s eighth hit of the game. And clutch-hitting Ellsbury did it again with a single through the hole at short for a 3-1 Sox lead. That chased Guthrie, who wasn’t sharp.
Matt Albers came on in relief and he ended the frame by getting Pedroia to line out to right field.
Buchholz labored through this frame but even when he fell behind in counts, the offensively inept Orioles couldn’t capitalize. Baltimore put a runner at third with one out when Nick Markakis singled moved to second on a groundout and then to third on a wild pitch. The O’s had two chances to get Markakis home after Matt Wieters walked to put runners at the corners.
Luke Scott popped to shallow center field, forcing the runner to hold, and on a 2-0 pitch Ty Wigginton flied out to medium center. Buchholz had thrown 67 pitches through four innings.
The wonders of Camden Yards is that you can hear the crack of the bat when the ball is smoked. That sound buzzed through the stadium in the fourth when Jason Bay drilled his 34th homer of the season, on a 1-2 pitch from Guthrie for a 2-1 Sox lead. The homer should not have served as a surprise because he entered the at-bat 5-for-11 with two homers lifetime against Guthrie. Bay’s career high in home runs was 35 with Pittsburgh in 2006.
The Sox are making a habit of wasting scoring chances, evidenced by the what happened after Victor Martinez hit a gapper to left-center field that short-hopped the wall at Camden Yards. Dustin Pedroia, who singled to begin the inning to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, motored around second but was unwisely waved home. If he stops at second, the Red Sox have runners at second and third with no out and Kevin Youkilis at the plate. Youkilis entered Friday hititng .356 at Camden Yards.
Instead Pedroia was waved home and thrown out rather easily by shortshop Cesar Izturis, who bounced a throw to catcher Matt Wieters, who was waiting for Pedroia to arrive. That left Martinez at second and Jeremy Guthrie responded by getting two quick outs to escape the frame unscathed.
Clay Buchholz looked comfortable on the mound, allowing just one hit through the first five batters and he got Melvin Mora and Matt Wieters to begin the frame. On a full count, Adam Scott crushed a fastball over the right-field scoreboard for his 23rd of the season and giving the Orioles some rare momentum. It was just the seventh home run allowed by Buchholz in 73 innings and first by a left-handed batter.
The Sox use a couple of untimely Jeremy Guthrie walks to cash in their first run. David Ortiz began the inning with a walk and was forced out at second by Jason Bay’s soft liner that was retrieved by second baseman Brian Roberts on a bounce. J.D. Drew then walked to put Bay into scoring position and Casey Kotchman knocked in Bay with a single to left field. Jeff Fiorentino’s throw home was much too late and the Sox were ahead a run.
Guthrie responded by getting Alex Gonzalez followed with a fly ball to right field while Jacoby Ellsbury struck out on a controversial check-swing call from third base umpire Brian Knight. (Does that sound familiar?)
Jacoby Ellsbury got the Sox off to a positive start with a hard single to left field to begin the game against Orioles RHP Jeremy Guthrie. He then gave the middle of the Sox lineup a chance to drive in a run by stealing second base on Guthrie’s second pitch to No. 2 hitter Dustin Pedroia. Boston, however, couldn’t get the ball out of the infield. Pedroia and Victor Martinez popped out to shortstop whule Kevin Youkilis, in his first game back since Sunday because of back spasms, grounded hard to third baseman Melvin Mora for the easy third out.