The Orioles faced their nemesis tonight, Jon Lester, and while they still weren't able to hang a loss onto his record, they won the game and that's good enough for me. It was a group effort for the Oriole tonight as they overcame a controversial home run and Jim Johnson's first blown save of the year to win 8-6 in ten innings.
The O's jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the game as Adam Jones and the hot again Matt Wieters hit back-to-back singles with men on base in the third inning. The Orioles had five baserunners in that inning thanks to three hits, a walk, and a Red Sox error, but that was the only inning in the first five that they made noise against Lester.
Starting pitcher Jason Hammel wasn't at his best tonight as he only gave up two runs, but a high pitch count forced him out of the game after just five innings. He shut the Red Sox out for four innings despite allowing baserunners in each inning. But in the fifth the Red Sox finally caught up to him as plated two to tie the game.
Daniel Nava and Mike Aviles singled to put two runners on with no outs, and then Scott Podsednik bunted towards first base. First baseman Mark Reynolds made the awful decision to throw across the diamond to third instead of taking the sure out. Steve Tolleson couldn't handle his throw and Nava came in to score the Sox first run of the game. Hey, it wouldn't be Orioles baseball without a bonehead play on defense!
With Aviles on third thanks to the error, Dustin Pedroia hit a long fly ball to center field that easily knocked in the tying run.
In the 6th inning the O's went back on top thanks to some creativity on the part of Reynolds. Wieters doubled to start the inning, and with the Red Sox employing the shift on him, Reynolds bunted up the third base side. Kevin Youkilis had no play as Wieters moved to third and Reynolds was safe at first. Well done, Wrapper! New Oriole Steve Pearce hit a ball deep enough for the slow-footed Wieters to score the go ahead run by tagging up.
Hammel didn't return to the game in the bottom of the sixth inning and instead was replaced by Troy Patton, who was not good. Patton walked two in the inning and gave up two hits and a sacrifice fly, promptly turning a 3-2 lead into a 4-3 deficit. Remember the good old days when Troy Patton didn't exist?
But the O's offense picked up their failed relief pitcher with three runs in the seventh, all scored after Scott Atchison replaced Lester on the mound.
Endy Chavez led off the seventh with a single, his second of three(!) hits on the night. Bobby Valentine then pulled Lester, who was visibly displeased with the decision. But as an Orioles fan, I was decidedly pleased. Atchison came in to face Robert Andino, who singled, and J.J. Hardy, who singled to knock in Chavez. He finally got the first out by inducing a grounder to third from Adam Jones. Youkilis fielded the ball and threw to second, but Hardy's hard slide into second kept them out of the double play.
A wild pitch moved Jones to third base, at which time the Red Sox elected to intentionally walk Wieters. Seemed like a good plan until it didn't work out. Both Reynolds and Pearce singled into right field to knock in a run. Just like that the O's were back on top, 6-4.
The O's and Red Sox relievers traded zeroes until the bottom of the 9th when the reliable Jim Johnson came in to shut things down. Only it didn't exactly work that way. He got two easy outs sandwiched around a long single off of the left field wall by David Ortiz, then faced Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Salty worked JJ for a tough at bat, fouling off several good pitches. Then on pitch #7 he launched a fastball towards the Green Monster. It appeared to go for a home run to tie the game, but upon further review it might have ricocheted off of a fan or even the top of the wall below the HR line. So the umpires went to their little room to review the call (one staying behind to make sure there were no shenanigans on the field). They were back there for awhile and ultimately ruled the ball a home run.
Jim Johnson's first blown save of the year! Panic! The O's didn't panic though, coming back in the top of the tenth to score two runs from the bottom of their lineup against the tough Alfredo Aceves.
Reynolds led off the inning and worked a walk, then Pearce bunted him to second base. With the next batters being Paulino, Ryan Flaherty, and Chavez, it looked like it could be a long night. But all three singled, resulting in two runs! Hey, look at that! Now at the top of the order, neither Andino nor Hardy could add to the lead.
JJ came back to pitch the bottom of the tenth and got some redemption, pitching a 12-pitch 1-2-3 inning. O's win! O's win!