The Orioles came into tonight's game looking to stop a three-game losing streak, and thanks to strong pitching and just enough offense, they did just that. The O's offense defeated their nemesis Clay Buchholz despite leaving eleven runners on base, scoring three of their four runs on sacrifice flies. Zach Britton pitched another fine game and was supported by a filthy Jim Johnson and a very adequate Kevin Gregg, who had his finest outing as an Oriole.
Britton, facing the Red Sox for the first time, didn't allow a hit through the first three innings. He allowed a leadoff single to Dustin Pedroia in the fourth, and after a ground out and a stolen base, Kevin Youkilis knocked Pedroia in on sacrifice fly. He got into even more trouble in the fifth inning, allowing a single, a double, and a two-out walk before retiring Adrian Gonzalez to get out of the inning. He allowed two more singles in the sixth but again didn't allow a run, and with 94 pitches on the day, Britton was finished. His line: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K.
The O's offense wasn't retired in order once this evening, a welcome change from the slumbering lineup we've seen so much lately. They first got on the board in the second thanks to a little bit of luck. With one out and runners on first and third, Matt Wieters hit a grounder to first base that, just as Gonzalez was about pick it off, kicked off of the base and out of his reach. Scott scored from first on the gift single.
They scored another single run in the third inning, though it was a bit of a disappointment as they had Buchholz on the ropes. With one out, Derrek Lee and Vladimir Guerrero singled, then Luke Scott walked in a very good at-bat. For most of the inning it looked like Buchholz didn't have much of an idea where his pitches were going, but that didn't stop Adam Jones from swinging at the first pitch he saw. He hit it to deep center field, good enough for the sac fly, but that was all the Orioles would get.
Lee and Guerrero again singled in the fifth inning, and moved up to second and third on a ground out by Scott. Again Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly, giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead. Their final run came in the seventh inning when the they loaded the bases with one out. Reynolds' put the O's up 4-1 with another sacrifice fly.
Jim Johnson pitched the seventh and eighth innings and looked fantastic doing it. He needed just eight pitches to get through the seventh inning, and while he allowed a leadoff double to Adrian Gonzalez to start the eighth, he then retired the next three with two more strikeouts. Gregg then pitched a 1-2-3 inning with a groundout, a strikeout, and an easy fly ball to right field.
This was kind of a ho-hum game, the kind that shouldn't cause any heartache amongst the fans of the winning team. But it's the Orioles, so it still did of course. Not to mention Clay Buchholz takes about an hour to throw every pitch, which made the game drag quite a bit. But a win is a win, and the O's will try to take the series tomorrow as Jeremy Guthrie faces Josh Beckett.