Through the first two games of this four-game series with Boston, the Orioles pitching staff kept a potent Red Sox lineup in check.
Boston tallied 12 hits in 74 at-bats in the two Orioles wins for a paltry .181 average and four runs.
Despite the success, Orioles manager Buck Showalter kept speaking to the potent nature of the Red Sox's lineup, and in the Orioles' 5-4 loss Saturday afternoon, those bats finally came alive.
When the Red Sox put three runs across in the fourth inning, it broke a streak of 18 consecutive scoreless innings posted by Orioles pitchers. The Orioles hadn't allowed a run since the seventh inning Thursday night, when the Red Sox tied the game to eventually send it to extra innings.
First baseman Mike Carp hit a two-run home run into right field, and three batters later, shortstop Stephen Drew doubled home left fielder Jonny Gomes to take a 3-2 lead.
An RBI groundout by second baseman Dustin Pedroia in the fifth and a solo home run by Gomes in the sixth would finalize Boston's total and finish right-hander Freddy Garcia's day on the mound.
"When you face a lineup like that, one thing can change the game," Garcia said.
The Red Sox entered Saturday's game leading the major leagues with 5.14 runs per game. They were second in on-base percentage (.347), third in slugging (.443) and sixth in batting average (.270). They had posted double-digit run totals seven times, including a season-high 17 on June 4 against Texas.
The Orioles, despite their recent success against Boston, entered with the second-worst ERA (4.44) and runs allowed per game (4.66) in the majors. The pitching staff has now served up 97 home runs this season and 11 in the past seven games. The average number of home runs allowed by pitching staffs this season is 66.
Boston took advantage, peppering Garcia for five runs on eight hits over his 5 1/3 innings. Eight of the nine Red Sox starters recorded a hit. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia was the lone Boston player without a hit, but he made up for hit with his defense, throwing out two would-be base stealers. Gomes recorded his third multi-hit game in the past five.
The Orioles, though, have an offense to rival Boston's, ranking first in home runs, fifth in runs per game and fifth in batting average entering Saturday. It showed, as they rallied to close within one in the ninth.
Sunday's pitching matchup features two starters with much success against the opposing team. Boston left-hander Jon Lester is 14-1 with a 2.63 ERA against the Orioles, while Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez is 2-0 with a 2.76 ERA against the Red Sox.
As the first three games of the series showed, though, things can go either way.