By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
12:17 AM EDT, April 12, 2013
BOSTON — Over the past two nights, the Orioles recaptured those late-inning heroics of last season at Fenway Park.
One night after a five-run ninth-inning rally led them to victory, the Orioles came from behind against the Red Sox again Thursday, winning 3-2 in a game that played out much like so many of last year's close wins.
This victory sealed the Orioles' fifth straight series win at Fenway Park, a streak that dates back to July 7-10, 2011.
“It means a lot,” said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who drove in two runs, including the game-winner in the seventh. “To get a series win here is very big, especially at this time in the season, or any time in the season. We know next time we come here they're probably going to [have] a little stronger lineup than we faced, but hey, we'll take it. We'll take the series and now we just have to go to New York and get the series win.”
It was the Orioles' first one-run win of 2013 — they were 29-9 in one-run games last season but lost their first three this season. It was their 12th win in their past 16 games in Boston and 11th out of 15 against the Red Sox overall.
The Orioles (5-4) now head into this weekend's series at Yankee Stadium with renewed momentum.
Jones drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out double in the seventh, lining the first pitch from former Oriole reliever Koji Uehara into left to score Manny Machado.
While Chris Davis — who hit his sixth homer of the season in the second inning — has received most of the attention at the plate for his early-season offensive tear, Jones has been nearly as good. Jones has hits in all nine games this season — including six multi-hit games — and he's hitting .462 (18-for-39) with four doubles, one homer and 10 RBIs.
"He had a big night for us,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Jones. “[He] got some big hits when we needed them. Runs looked like they were going to be at a premium.”
Thursday's victory puts the Orioles — who were one out away from falling two games under .500 on Wednesday — into a tie for first-place with the Red Sox.
The Orioles bullpen threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings, including two critical strikeouts by Brian Matusz (1-0) in the sixth after starter Chris Tillman left a two-on, one-out jam in a 2-2 tie.
Matusz escaped the inning by striking out Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Stephen Drew. He fell behind Saltalamacchia 3-0 and battled back to get him on a slider. He worked ahead of Drew 0-2 before getting him looking on a fastball to the low-inside corner.
“It was huge,” said Matusz, who has stranded all three of his inherited runners this season. “It was a crucial situation in the game right there. They had a little momentum going their way, and to be able to stop it right there [was big]. And obviously our offense came back and scored a run for us. It was a crucial part and it was a nice way to end it there. ...
“It's a tough atmosphere to play [in], and Boston plays great here at home. So it was really nice for us to be able to come out with a series win.”
Machado, who hit the game-winning, ninth-inning homer in the Orioles' 8-5 comeback win Wednesday, added three hits Thursday, including a two-out single off reliever Clayton Mortensen (0-1) that began the Orioles' go-ahead rally.
Nick Markakis then drew a walk from right-hander Andrew Miller, bringing up Jones.
Jones, who tied the game in the fifth with a two-out RBI single, jumped on Uehara's first delivery and pulled it down the left-field line to score Machado from second.
Tillman battled through a high-pitch count — he threw seven three-ball counts — allowing two runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander walked two and struck out five.
Tillman said he knew the Red Sox would work the count against him.
“I had that in mind, and they got in a lot of deep counts tonight, fouled off a lot of pitches,” Tillman said. “I felt like that third inning took forever."
After Matusz finished the sixth, Pedro Strop, Darren O'Day and Jim Johnson each working a scoreless frame.
Johnson, who earned his fourth save of the season, stranded a runner on first in the ninth, striking out Jonny Gomes and getting Jacoby Ellsbury to fly out to left to end the game.
“We know what we have to do,” Johnson said. “We're playing against teams in our division and obviously all these games mean a lot. They're a good team and they're totally different than what they were last year. It's going to be a dogfight all the way through. And we know that and they know that. Any time you can win a series and move on to the next city, you're happy.”
The Red Sox plated two runs off Tillman in the third to take a 2-1 lead, with both runs scoring with two outs. Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI single to right, and Mike Napoli followed with an RBI single to left that fell just in front of a sliding Nate McLouth.
The Orioles failed to score with the bases loaded and two outs in the fourth when No. 9 hitter Alexi Casilla struck out to end the inning. Orioles No. 9 hitters are 2-for-20 since Brian Roberts was injured last Thursday.
In Davis' first at-bat of the game in the second inning, he crushed an offering from Boston starter Alfredo Aceves over the wall in deep center, a solo shot that put the Orioles up 1-0.
Davis, who hit a solo homer to start the Orioles' ninth-inning rally Wednesday, has homered in 13 of his last 16 games dating back to Sept. 26. Included in that stretch are consecutive homer streaks of four and six games.
“Our guys should be proud of their effort the last two nights, and really the last three nights,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, “and we move on to another challenge in New York.”
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