BALTIMORE - For much of September, the Baltimore Orioles struggled to get key hits late in games. That's part of the reason why they failed to make the playoffs for a second straight season.
On Saturday night, the Orioles got one. Designated hitter Steve Pearce laced a two-run double to left with one out in the eighth to lift Baltimore to a 6-5 win over the Boston Red Sox.
It was Pearce's second double of the game, as he also drove in a run on one in the second. His three RBIs were a season-high.
"That's why his work has always been wanted. Stevie's a professional hitter. He works hard at his trade," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "There's nothing beneath him and he's always willing to do what's best for the team. That's why he keeps playing and we keep wanting him around."
Pearce had battled wrist injuries throughout the season. Because of that, the role player said it's satisfying to end the season on a strong note.
"It was almost hard to picture anything good coming out of this year," Pearce said. "On a personal note, it's definitely gratifying, especially in a game like this. It was a fun game out there tonight."
The game ended up meaning nothing for either team. Boston (97-64) had already clinched the best record in the American League when Oakland lost earlier in the day. And the Orioles (84-77) have been eliminated since Tuesday.
Yet, the 36,556 at Camden Yards were on their feet when Jim Johnson sealed the win with his American League-leading 49th save by striking out Jonny Gomes looking to end the game.
"The fans never surprise me," Showalter said. "They're always into it emotionally when it comes to the Baltimore Orioles, and that's a given we never take for granted. You've got to continue to do a good job giving them something they can trust. And part of that is playing with the effort our guys played with tonight. We are playing for something."
Despite having his struggles this season, Johnson's save was his 100th since the beginning of last season.
Baltimore was able to get consistent offense throughout the whole game. In the third, Brian Roberts led off with eighth homer of the season. He has three home runs in his last five games.
The Orioles also plated a pair of runs in the fifth on RBI singles from Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia. However, they trailed to the Red Sox entering the eighth after reliever Josh Stinson gave up a pair of runs, one unearned, in the seventh.
Baltimore reliever Kevin Gausman worked 1 1-3 innings of perfect relief, striking out two, to earn the win and improve to 3-5. Boston's Junichi Tazawa (5-4) took the loss.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen gave up three runs on nine hits over 5 1-3 innings in his last start of the season. It was his sixth straight no-decision.
Chen had just one win in his final 11 starts.
"I waste too much pitch count in the first couple innings and this is a lesson I have to learn," Chen said through his interpreter. "This is my priority next spring to go deeper as a starter."
Boston starter Jon Lester gave up four runs on nine hits over five innings. He entered the game with a 2.80 ERA against the Orioles, but had lost two of his last three starts against them. This time, he was a non-factor.
Like Showalter said, Baltimore is still trying to win games. The Orioles will send Chris Tillman to the mound today to try and win their finale.
"Everybody just finish strong and go into spring training with a good mindset. Everybody can just kind of roll," Gausman said. "I think it is always good when you end on a good note and that's what we're trying to do."
NOTES: Manny Machado will leave the team Sunday to go to Florida to see Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion on his left knee. ... Michael Morse, who has not played since last Sunday, has a left wrist injury that may require surgery. The left fielder went just 3 for 29 in 12 games for the Orioles since being acquired Aug. 30. Morse informed the Orioles of the injury several days ago. ... Infielder Jonathan Schoop felt soreness in his back Saturday and will be further examined. Schoop had a stress fracture in his back earlier this season while he was in the minors.