With closer Kevin Gregg serving the first game of a three-game ban after his fight with the also-suspended David Ortiz and Koji Uehara unavailable after pitching three straight days, Orioles manager Buck Showalter reached deep into his bullpen late in a close game, and what followed was as predictable as the end result of the game.
The Boston Red Sox found yet another way to humiliate the Orioles, breaking a tie with an eight-run eighth inning on their way to a 15-10 victory in front of an announced 27,924 at Camden Yards.
Perhaps all you need to know is that the key at-bat in the game was an eighth-inning matchup between 2008 American League Most Valuable Player Dustin Pedroia and Orioles reliever Mark Worrell, who had been promoted to the big leagues earlier in the day and was making his first major league appearance since June 13, 2008.
Pedroia won the battle with a two-run double, breaking the tie and setting the stage for the eight-run eighth inning that was well received by a pro-Red Sox crowd.
"It is what it is. I'm sure they would have loved to have Ortiz there tonight," said Showalter, who also didn't have Mark Hendrickson available and was trying to hold Jim Johnson back for a potential save situation after he had pitched 1 2/3 innings the previous day. "It's part of the situation, and you deal with it the best you can. A lot of people failed to get that part of their lineup out this year. Seems like us more than most."
Trying to extend their winning streak to three games and break a six-game losing streak against the Red Sox, the Orioles scored five times in the fifth inning to take a lead in a game in which they had trailed by four runs.
But the Red Sox tied the score in the seventh on Kevin Youkilis' one-out RBI single. They turned the game into a laugher in the eighth, sending 12 batters to the plate -- five got hits, and four walked -- against three Orioles pitchers.
"Frustrating," said Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, understating things slightly on a day that started with his signing a three-year, $22.25 million contract extension. "When we were over at their place, I felt like they were getting eight runs in the first inning. We battled back a little bit and had the momentum, and it happened kind of quick. Eight runs and then, bam."
In his second inning of work, Michael Gonzalez (1-2) retired just one of the four batters he faced, leaving a near-impossible situation for Worrell: the bases loaded with just one out and Pedroia, who had extended his hitting streak to 16 games earlier in the night, coming to the plate.
"It's a tough spot, but it's spots [like that] I want to be in, and I feel like I need to succeed in that," said Worrell, who has 12 saves for Triple-A Norfolk this season. "I wouldn't have it any other way. I need to pitch my way out of that."
With his funky sidewinder delivery, Worrell fell behind 3-1 before Pedroia laced a full-count pitch to right field, the double scoring two runs. After Adrian Gonzalez was walked intentionally, Youkilis hit a two-run single off Worrell, ending the reliever's night. The Red Sox tacked on four more in the inning with Chris Jakubauskas on the mound.
"All I want to do is do my part and help us win ballgames," Worrell said. "I didn't do my part today, and it [stinks]."
The Orioles (38-55) made the score a little more respectable with a three-run bottom of the eighth, but they lost for the 15th time in the past 18 games. It was their first defeat when scoring double-digit runs since Aug. 2, 2009, when they went were beaten, 18-10, by the Red Sox. It also was marked just the 29th time in franchise history the Orioles have lost a game in which they scored 10 runs or more.
The Orioles got homers from Adam Jones and Hardy, who drove in a team-high three runs, as part of a five-run fifth inning that overcame a 6-2 deficit and knocked knuckleballer Tim Wakefield from the game.
Nick Markakis, Derrek Lee and Nolan Reimold also drove in two runs apiece, but the Orioles couldn't match the Red Sox's firepower. A night after they didn't score their first run until Pedroia's RBI single in the 16th inning broke a scoreless tie against the Tampa Bay Rays, the Red Sox pounded out 16 hits and drew five walks, scoring in five of the final seven innings.
Perhaps the outburst should have been expected when you consider that five of the six pitchers the Orioles used spent significant stretches in the minor leagues this season. That included starter Brad Bergesen, who allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits over five innings in his first start since May 28.
"I don't think I need to change anything at all," Bergesen said. "The results just weren't there for me tonight."
When Bergesen headed to the dugout after throwing his final pitch to end the top of the fifth inning, the Orioles trailed by four runs. By the time that inning was over, the Orioles had scored five times and put him in position to get a win. But as usual against the Red Sox (58-36), the Orioles were outdone by Boston three innings later when three different Orioles relievers tried to stop the damage and couldn't.
"It's tough, especially against this lineup," Hardy said. "It's really tough for the pitchers. I guess it's the game. It is the big leagues, and that's a good lineup. I think it could have gone either way. Those guys could have come up and done really well today, too."
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