The Orioles felt pretty good about themselves Monday afternoon. By Monday night, they just wanted to lick their wounds and duck out of Fenway Park for a few hours.
Continuing their success against potential playoff teams, the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox, 6-5, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader on Monday before dropping a dreadful 18-9 shootout in which the starting pitchers combined to surrender 14 runs and 17 hits.
The nearly four-hour bashfest started ugly, with the Orioles scoring three runs against beleaguered Boston righty John Lackey, only to see shellshocked lefty Brian Matusz hand the lead back in the bottom of the first.
The night didn't get much better for either starter or, really, either pitching staff. The offenses, though, loved it.
The Red Sox (88-66) tied a season high in runs and hits (20), while the Orioles, who had surrendered 17 runs two other times this year, set their season mark for runs allowed. The Orioles (63-90) scored nine times on 13 hits and somehow lost by nine runs.
“It's tough going out there, especially when the offense jumps out to a nice start and provides some run support,” Matusz said. “It's frustrating to be able to go out there and not hold the opponent. It's tough, but I'm just going to keep building, keep working. That's all I can do.”
Boston third baseman Jed Lowrie had the big blow early, a three-run homer in the first to give Boston a lead it never relinquished — though it came close. Lackey was roughed up for eight runs in 41/3 innings, serving up 11 hits and two walks and throwing 105 pitches. And he nearly got the win.
Partially because Matusz (1-8) was kicked around again, the third time in 11 starts this season that he hasn't escaped the second inning. He hadn't pitched since Sept. 5 — when he gave up five runs in 11/3 against the New York Yankees — and the result was similar. He recorded just five outs and was charged with six earned runs on six hits and two walks, his first career loss in four games at Fenway Park.
“He will get home for two or three weeks and kind of settle in” after the season ends,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “And he'll think about things and, if I know Brian, he's going to come back really fighting. And he's going to start very quickly toward that, and he will remember a lot of this. … I know he's feeling some retribution in his mind. Not vindictively toward teams or people, just the whole pitching part of it.”
Once considered a possible future ace, Matusz now has an ERA of 10.68 and he likely won't start again in 2011. Matusz, who has lost eight straight and hasn't allowed fewer than five earned runs in his last seven starts, was relieved in the second byChris Jakubauskas.
Jakubauskas didn't fare much better, giving up five runs in one inning. The Orioles trailed 11-5 after three, but battled back, scoring runs in five of their first six innings and closing within two, 11-9.
But the Red Sox broke it open in a seven-run seventh, which included a grand slam by Conor Jackson and the first career inside-the-park homer by Jacoby Ellsbury on a drive to center that bounced away from Matt Angle. It was the second inside-the-parker allowed by the Orioles — and Jeremy Accardo — this year. Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria did it at Camden Yards in June.
Pat Hentgen in 2003 was the last Orioles pitcher to surrender two inside-the-park homers in one season.
Twice on Monday night the Red Sox batted around. It was that kind of evening for the Orioles' pitchers.
In the early game of the doubleheader, though, the Orioles used three homers to secure their 63rd win, which guaranteed they would avoid losing 100 games this season. They've hit the century mark just two times in their history: the inaugural 1954 season and 1988, when they began 0-21.
“It's important, but we never thought about it,” Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie said of avoiding 100 losses. “It's been more written about. There's not been a single person in here that's thought about it or asked about it or talked about it, playerwise and coaching-wise, so it's out of our thoughts.”
All three homers Monday afternoon — back-to-back shots by Robert Andino and Nolan Reimold in the fourth and J.J. Hardy's 28th homer of the season in the fifth — came against rookie Kyle Weiland (0-3). Angle added a two-run double in the third — his first multiple-RBI hit of his career.
The inning was set up by former Oriole Darnell McDonald and the glaring afternoon sun. McDonald, starting in left because Carl Crawford was scratched with a stiff neck, failed to make three consecutive catches in the third. He lost a liner that was ruled a single, dropped another for an error and then mistimed his jump against the Green Monster on Angle's double.
McDonald, however, did hit a homer in Game 1, the only long ball allowed by Guthrie (9-17), who lasted six innings and yielded four runs on 10 hits. He stuck around long enough to get the win, the first in his career at Fenway Park in eight tries.
“It's really nice, probably one of my favorite days as a baseball player,” said Guthrie, who asked for and received the day's lineup card as a souvenir. “I'm happy we were able to win this game, did a lot of things right. I didn't do too many of them, but the guys were able to swing the bats well, made some big double plays and the bullpen just locked it down for us, so a really nice win for the Orioles.”
The Red Sox scored twice in the fifth against Guthrie, and it would have been more except for a controversial call. With two outs and Pedroia on third, David Ortiz lined a ball down the right field line and appeared to be headed for a RBI double.
But first base umpire Mike Estabrook ruled that the ball struck the side right-field wall in foul territory before caroming fair. Ortiz then flied out to end the inning.
“The last [report] was that it hit the foul screen first and then the foul pole, so if that's the case, what a great call,” Showalter said. “I mean, not that it affected us, but do you know how tough that it is to make that correctly for an umpire? … That's really a testament to their ability.”
Reliever Troy Patton gave up a run in the seventh, but four relievers combined for 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Jim Johnson, whom Showalter chose in a one-run game in the ninth instead of closer Kevin Gregg, needed just seven pitches to pick up his seventh save of the season. Losing the nightcap dropped the Orioles to 4-10 this season against the Red Sox, who remain two games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL wild-card race. Five of the Orioles' final nine games are against the Red Sox.
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