BOSTON — Adam Jones isn't putting too much thought why he's having the best start of his major-league career.
But Orioles manager Buck Showalter has seen a difference. His starting center fielder is being slightly more selective at the plate. He's not as eager to swing at pitches in the dirt, but he's still been able to maintain the aggressiveness that's made him one of the best hitters in the game.
"When he's getting a pitch, he's not missing it," Showalter said of Jones. "But if you go back through some of those pitches, they're not all strikes. Keep that in mind when someone's talking about [him being] a little too aggressive out of the zone. That's who he is.
Jones' scorching start to the season continued Sunday afternoon, as he tied career highs with five RBIs and four hits in the Orioles' 8-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park in front of an announced sellout crowd of 37,761.
In the Orioles' 15-hit attack, Jones provided the team's two biggest hits, a mammoth two-run home run in the first inning that cleared the Green Monster in left field and landed on Lansdowne Street and a bases-clearing three-run double off the left-center field fence that broke the game open in the sixth.
The Orioles (7-5) are tied with the Red Sox for first place atop the American League East.
They've taken two of three in the four-game series in Boston and head into Monday's 11:05 a.m. Patriots' Day game with the opportunity to win their ninth series at Fenway Park in their past 11 trips dating back to September 2011. The Orioles have won seven of their past eight games at Fenway.
"That's a good club over there," Showalter said of the Red Sox. "We've been fortunate the last couple of nights and we got a tough break in the first one. Ballgames aren't over 'til the last out here. You've got to grind these games out and our guys did. You know how quickly that could turn, but I don't think anybody in there ... pays much attention to it."
When the Orioles lost Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis to free agency, there was a question how their departures would affect Jones. But Jones' start suggests he's better than ever. Through the season's first 12 games, he is hitting .457 (21-for-46) with five homers and 16 RBIs.
"They are still going to pitch me the same way," Jones said. "I just got to get a fastball and try to not miss it. They aren't going to pitch me different because of personnel. They are going to pitch me based off what they've seen. I'm just trying to switch up some things, lay off off-speed and sit on fastballs the entire time. If I get a hanging curveball or something, swing at it, but try to really hone in on not swinging at off-speed pitches early in the count to [not] get myself in a hole."
In this series, Jones is 8-for-14, and dating back to the beginning of the 2014 season, he is hitting. 510 (25-for-49) in 13 games at Fenway Park.
"I don't think anybody's hit .400 since the guy who played here, right?" said right-hander Tommy Hunter, referring to Ted Williams hitting .406 in 1941. "It's fun to watch right now, though. Adam's a hell of a baseball player and he's playing very well, seeing the ball really big and he's a big part of the team."
Designated hitter Jimmy Paredes, hitting in the No. 2 hole, had three hits on Saturday and is 5-for-10 in his two games since being activated from the disabled list. Ryan Flaherty added a solo homer, his second of the season, in the second inning.
The Orioles have homered in nine straight games, which is the longest streak in the majors this season.
Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez overcame a 35-pitch first inning — a frame in which he issued three walks an allowed a three-run homer to Hanley Ramirez — by following with four scoreless innings. Gonzalez allowed five hits, struck out five and walked four in five innings.
"I think I was getting a feel for the ball," Gonzalez said. "It's dry out there, it's cold, but I was able to minimize it, but obviously those three walks and the homer to Hanley got me a little bit, but I settled down after that."
The Orioles bullpen tossed four scoreless innings to preserve the win, with Hunter and right-hander Kevin Gausman each pitching two innings. Hunter, making his first appearance since allowing a walk-off single on Friday, retired all six batters he faced and Gausman allowed just one hit.
After allowing a run in each of this season's first 10 games, the bullpen has combined for 82/3 scoreless innings in the past two games.
"Man, two straight games and we did what we were supposed to do," Hunter deadpanned. "That's kind of awesome, it's fun. Two games in a row, so we'll hopefully keep that streak going and not go back to the other. ... It was nine games in a row, I guess, or 10? Oh, 10 games."
The game included the weird — there was a lengthy between-innings delay when home plate umpire Paul Emmel left the game abruptly because of an injury, prompting an umpire shift — and the ugly — Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was ejected after he emphatically argued a check swing call made by home plate umpire John Tumpane.
Jordan Baker, the umpire who threw Jimenez out on Friday, was not among Sunday's umpiring crew. He was out for personal reasons, not disciplinary.