The Orioles and Boston Red Sox began their series at Camden Yards tied for last place in the suddenly improved American League East, but the two teams finished it going different directions.
As Nolan Reimold trotted around the bases for his first homer in an Orioles uniform in 23 months, he would acknowledge later that he took some time to savor the moment. That's because in July, when the Orioles reluctantly designated Reimold for assignment, he thought his days of playing for the only organization he had known were over.
"After that happened, I didn't think," Reimold said. "I never thought that far ahead, but I didn't think I'd be back here, but I always wanted to, obviously. That's why it means a lot to me to be back here again. … I'm glad to be back. I appreciate it. I'm not taking anything for granted."
Reimold, signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, is the next man up in the Orioles' search for corner outfield help, and he hit one of the Orioles' three homers in Thursday night's 6-5 victory over the Red Sox before an announced 22,840 at Camden Yards. The win completed a three-game sweep of Boston, the Orioles' first sweep in 19 series this year and first three-game sweep of Boston at home since Sept. 28-30, 2013.
The Orioles (29-30), who have won a season-high four straight games and six of their past seven, have taken 13 of their past 18 meetings with the Red Sox (27-34) overall, including five of six this season at Camden Yards.
The top three hitters in the Orioles' lineup — Manny Machado, Reimold and Adam Jones — each homered, all off Boston left-hander Wade Miley, who was chased from the game after just four innings.
And the Orioles' defense, a staple of the team's recent surge, shined again Thursday.
On a humid night when the ball was carrying, Reimold, playing in just his second game since rejoining the Orioles from Triple-A Norfolk, made eight putouts in left field, including a nice running catch on Brock Holt's hit down the left-field line in the second inning.
"Going after some of the balls tonight, it just reminds me what the separator is [with some] of these guys at this level," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Reimold. "A lot of guys would have given in, but to have a good season, you've got to have things like that happen. I know everybody feels good for Nolan. It's been a long journey for him."
Jones' 10th homer of the season gave the Orioles a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning. Jones, who continues to recover this month from a May slump, blasted a 1-1 pitch from Miley into the left-field stands for his fourth homer in eight games.
After Steve Pearce's RBI single in the second, Reimold opened the third with a solo blast to left, his first since rejoining the Orioles on Tuesday and his first with the Orioles since July 10, 2013. His last big league homer came Aug. 31, as a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Chris Tillman (4-7), who retired the first nine Boston batters he faced, lasted 5 2/3 innings, allowing four runs and five hits, but recorded his first win at home since Sept. 20.
Tillman loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth after allowing back-to-back singles to Dustin Pedroia and Brock Holt and walking Hanley Ramirez on four pitches, prompting a visit from pitching coach Dave Wallace.
Tillman nearly escaped the inning relatively unscathed, inducing a weak flyout to left from David Ortiz and a sacrifice fly to center from Mike Napoli that scored Pedroia from third. But Pablo Sandoval hit a two-out, two-run double that dropped between Reimold and Jones in left-center field, cutting the Orioles' lead to 5-3.
"It was OK," Tillman said. "It could have been better. It could have been worse. I made some good pitches to get out of some trouble. You'd like, first of all, not to be in trouble, but I think we're able to throw the fastball enough and mix in just enough off-speed stuff to keep us in that game."
The Orioles responded in the bottom of the fourth on Machado's 10th homer of the year, a solo blast to left-center field with two outs in the inning.
Machado helped Tillman strand a runner on third in the fifth, barehanding a chopper on the infield grass and throwing Pedroia out at first for the second out of the inning. Machado also made a backhanded stab on Ramirez's one-hopper in the first inning, throwing him out from the edge of the outfield grass.
"We are playing really good baseball," Machado said. "We are playing 'D' like we are supposed to, our pitching staff is pitching well, and we are getting rhythm. … We are playing the defense we are supposed to be playing on the Orioles and this organization."
Miley, who allowed five runs on nine hits, exchanged angry words with Boston manager John Farrell in the dugout, apparently after Farrell told him he was coming out of the game.
"He's a competitor," Red Sox manager John Farrell said of Miley. "You work four days for your start, [he] doesn't want to come out of the ballgame, and I fully respect that. He didn't want to come out of the game, and that's his competitive spirit coming through. But while he had good stuff, there were some decent swings against him. Felt like we needed to make a move."
Tillman left the game with two on and two out in the sixth, and right-hander Brad Brach allowed one inherited runner to score on Xander Bogaerts' single to left, then struck out Mookie Betts to end the inning.
The Orioles added a run in the seventh on Matt Wieters' sacrifice fly, which proved to be the game-winner after David Ortiz hit a solo homer in the eighth to make it 6-5. Closer Zach Britton allowed a two-out infield single in the ninth but struck out Pedroia to seal his 17th save of the season.
Ortiz's homer off reliever Chaz Roe marked the only run the Orioles' bullpen allowed in the three-game series over a span of 12 innings. Despite being one man down because of left-hander Brian Matusz's eight-game suspension, the bullpen allowed only four hits in the series.
"These guys have done a good job of finishing," Showalter said. "Chaz gave up the home run, but got right back on the horse. That was impressive. … They kind of rally around it. Not that there's a safety net. It was going to be a need. They saw it coming. They knew."