The first time the Orioles faced former farmhand Eduardo Rodriguez two weeks ago at Camden Yards, their bats were silenced by the 22-year-old lefty for six scoreless innings.
As Rodriguez faced the Orioles again Thursday afternoon in Boston, he retired the first 10 batters he faced, but this time, he wouldn’t survive his second turn through the batting order.
The Orioles battered Rodriguez, the talented pitching prospect they traded to the Boston Red Sox in last year’s deadline deal for Andrew Miller, for six runs in the fourth inning on their way to an 8-6 win over the Red Sox in front of an announced sellout crowd of 37,706 at Fenway Park.
“His ball was exploding early,” said Orioles left fielder Steve Pearce, who had his first three-hit game of the season Thursday. “He was throwing hard. It had some giddy-up to it. The second time through, we kind of changed our approach and put some good swings on balls and had some good hits.”
With the win, the Orioles (38-34) returned to a season-high four games above .500 while recording their ninth series win in their past 12 trips to Fenway Park dating to 2011. The Orioles are 26-13 in Boston during that span.
The Orioles have won nine of 13 games against the Red Sox overall this season and are 24-20 against division opponents.
“Little by little, we have our moments,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We’re now taking a couple of steps forward and maybe one back instead of [the other way].”
The Orioles head home having won 15 of their past 20 games. They completed their eight-game road trip to Philadelphia, Toronto and Boston with a 5-3 record, winning two series on one road trip for the first time this season.
The Orioles received just two quality starts on the road trip, in the first two games of the trip in Philadelphia.
However, their offense awakened. The Orioles have scored six or more runs in three of their last four games, and two of those games included one inning of six runs or more. On Sunday in Toronto, the Orioles went up 7-0 after a seven-run second inning, but needed four runs in the ninth to win 13-9. On Thursday, they led 6-1 after their six-run fourth, but again failed to follow with shutdown innings.
“It’s big because it gives you a good chance to win the game, but at the same time, I think we have to do a better job of shutting them down when we get those big innings,” said catcher Matt Wieters, whose two-run homer in the fourth was one of the key hits. “That’s the next step and something I think we can look at in this series and last series and try to improve on to be able to shut them down after putting together a big inning.”
Seven of the Orioles’ 14 hits were for extra bases (six doubles and one homer) as eight of the nine starters had at least one hit.
Rodriguez, who held the Orioles to just three hits over six innings in his first start against his former team, allowed seven consecutive hits in the fourth and was chased from the game with two outs in the inning for the shortest outing in his six big league starts.
After allowing one earned run in his first three major league outings spanning 20 2/3 innings, Rodriguez has allowed at least six runs in two of his past three starts. The Blue Jays roughed him up for nine runs in 4 2/3 innings on June 14.
With the game tied 1-1 and a man on first with one out in the fourth, the switch-hitting Wieters hit his third homer of the season — his first against a left-hander — on an opposite-field blast into the Red Sox bullpen in right-center field.
After Delmon Young and Chris Davis followed with back-to-back singles, Hardy hit a ball off the Green Monster in left that bounced over former Oriole Alejandro De Aza, allowing both runners to score.
Two batters later, after a single by Steve Pearce, who had two doubles, Ryan Flaherty drove in the sixth run of the inning on a sacrifice fly to center.
The Orioles would need more runs than that, especially since they struggled to notch a shutdown inning. After surrendering six in the top of the fourth, the Red Sox (32-41) responded with three in the bottom of the inning on De Aza’s three-run homer off Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (6-4).
De Aza’s homer — he hooked a 2-2 pitch from Gonzalez inside Pesky's Pole in right — snapped a homerless stretch of 78 at-bats dating to May 9 as an Oriole.
Gonzalez, who returned from a disabled list stint with a right groin injury to make his first start since June 9, received seven runs of support after getting no more than one run in each of his previous four starts.
He allowed four runs on eight hits over five innings, marking the sixth straight game that an Orioles starter hasn’t recorded at least six innings. Over those six games, the Orioles bullpen has been forced to account for 28 2/3 innings, posting a 2.51 ERA.
“I felt today with two strikes I was around the zone a little too much, but that’s a part of the game,” Gonzalez said. “I want to be out there and attack the zone. That’s what we’re here for. Overall, I think we did a really good job.”
Orioles pitchers also received help from their defense. Pearce ended the first inning with a tremendous running play on David Ortiz's tailing foul ball to left, crashing into the padding on the side wall in right after making the catch in foul territory.
First baseman Chris Parmelee made a leaping catch of Pablo Sandoval's line drive to end the fifth, and made a diving stop in the hole to take a hit away from catcher Blake Swihart for the final out of the eighth.
The Orioles added a run in the sixth on Manny Machado’s RBI single off Red Sox rookie Jonathan Aro, who was making his major league debut. They scored another run in the seventh on Davis' two-out double down the right-field line that scored Nolan Reimold.
“We have a very good offensive team,” Pearce said. “When we put up runs, we kind of want to bury teams. We don’t want them to come back. We want to keep swinging it, we don’t want to change everything and kind of set the tone for the series and the next time we play them.”
The Orioles needed those insurance runs because the Red Sox scored twice in the seventh off left-hander T.J. McFarland. Shortstop Xander Bogaerts hit an RBI double in front of the 379-foot sign in center field, and scored two batters later on a wild pitch by McFarland.
Closer Zach Britton brought the tying run to the plate in the ninth after allowing a leadoff single to Jackie Bradley Jr. on a ball that took a bad hop and skipped over Parmelee at first. But Britton retired the next three batters he faced to notch his 21st save.