BALTIMORE - In order to take three of four from division-leading Boston, the Baltimore Orioles had to get past an old nemesis in Jon Lester.
The Red Sox ace had lost to Baltimore only once in his career, and his 14 consecutive wins is the longest streak against the Orioles in their history. But Baltimore's bats, as has been the case for most of the season against the competition, put a dent in Lester's impressive record by battering him around Sunday afternoon.
The Orioles beat Boston 6-3 in front of 41,311 at Camden Yards, and in doing so won the series and cut the Red Sox's AL East lead to 1.5 games.
Baltimore belted out six doubles and had 14 hits, nine of which came against Lester in five innings. The Boston right-hander lost for the first time at Camden Yards. He was 7-0 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 starts before Sunday's outing.
And first baseman Chris Davis had yet another big blow.
Davis was hitless in 14 career at-bats against Lester until the third inning, when he launched a 3-1 pitch deep to right field for a two-run homer, his 23rd of the season, and put the Orioles on top 3-0.
"I think the more you see a guy, the more you are able to gather a plan and approach and to try to make some adjustments," said Davis, who reached the 100 home run mark for his career. "Obviously we have a different group here and some guys have really done a good job of putting together some good at-bats and trying to get on him early."
Nick Markakis went 4 for 5 with two doubles and three runs, and four Orioles had at least two hits on the day. Baltimore (40-30) has won six straight series against the Red Sox and nine of the last 10.
"Anytime we can rattle off some wins against a division opponent it's a good thing, especially these guys, knowing they're in first place," Davis said. "We're definitely happy the way the series went."
Miguel Gonzalez appreciated the offensive attack - the right-hander stayed sharp against Boston (3-0, 3.18 ERA in three starts) and raised his record to 5-2.
Boston third baseman Will Middlebrooks ended Gonzalez's day in the seventh inning with a three-run homer to right, but Baltimore's bullpen held down the Sox (42-29) from there. Brian Matusz, Tommy Hunter, and Jim Johnson combined for 2 2-3 scoreless frames, with Johnson pitching a perfect ninth inning for his 25th save.
Gonzalez stayed focused despite the impending birth of his first child back home in California.
"It gets me pumped up. I'm excited," said Gonzalez, who went 6 1-3 innings and allowed three runs. "I'm excited for her to come and obviously she's taking a little longer than what we thought, but just waiting on that day."
Adam Jones' two-out double down the left-field line scored Markakis and gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead in the third inning before Davis extended the lead. Lester (6-4) walked none and struck out eight, but the Orioles got their cuts in against him.
"If you don't think guys don't know numbers and what they mean, guys that have been playing a while," manager Buck Showalter said. "I try to take the approach with them, you're due. You're a good hitter, and things like that are in your favor. A lot of guys use it as an excuse to say it's just one of those matchups."
The Orioles went 5-2 on their seven-game homestand and are 9-5 in June, with a six-game, seven-day road trip coming up in Detroit and Toronto. They don't see Boston again in more than a month, but for now they're winning the season series against their AL East rivals.
And they even notched a rare win against a top-notch starter.
"It's always important especially with them being in first place," Gonzalez said.
"It gave us a chance to get closer to them."