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Recap: Orioles gain ground with 6-3 win over Red Sox

The out-of-town scoreboard at Fenway Park looms large along the famed Green Monster, but for the Orioles bullpen, there's a certain time of the game when the relievers start stirring and there's little time for scoreboard watching.

With 18 games remaining in the regular season, the Orioles currently hold the second American League wild-card spot, but they realize their concentration best be on the field during a stretch run that includes 15 games against division opponents for any of it to matter.

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"Yeah," Orioles closer Zach Britton said when asked if the relievers catch themselves checking out other contenders' scored, "just because it's so big here. We're watching, but at the same time, once you get later in that game, we're just focusing on what we have to do because we know if we do our jobs, we're going to have a chance to win the game."

That includes this week's series against the division-leading Red Sox at Fenway, where the Orioles rebounded from an ugly opening loss to beat Boston 6-3 on Tuesday night.

The Orioles bullpen accounted for 3 2/3 scoreless innings against the American League's top-hitting team, capped by closer Zach Britton's four-out save in front of an announced sellout crowd of 38,041.

"It really doesn't matter what [the other teams are] doing," Britton said. "We have to win our games and then kind of keep it out of other teams' hands. That's the biggest thing right now. We don't want to rely on other teams. We kind of want to create our own destiny."

With the win, the Orioles (79-65) moved into a second-place tie with the Toronto Blue Jays in the AL East and are now two games behind front-running Red Sox. The Orioles also extended their lead for the second wild-card spot to two games over the Detroit Tigers, who are now tied with the New York Yankees.

With his 42nd consecutive converted save to open the season, Britton passed former Phillies closer Brad Lidge for the third-longest save streak in a single season in major league history.

"You run out of things to describe what he's done for us this year and last," manager Buck Showalter said of Britton. "To go out there in the ninth inning and go three up, three down, the top of their order, on the road, that's hard to do. … It's September. We do all the things we do to make sure we have a chance to put our best foot forward every day, and that's one of the reasons why you do things in April, May, June, July so that you can have people like Zach available to pitch in these situations."

Britton earned his fourth multiple-inning save of the year, three of them coming against the Red Sox. Britton entered the game with one on and two outs in the eighth, and after allowing a single to left-handed hitting Jackie Bradley, Jr., Britton got pinch hitter Sandy Leon to ground out.

"I've done it here a couple times now," Britton said. "… I got ready probably about the seventh inning, just in case I was needed."

The Orioles offense staked Bundy to a big early lead with a five-run second inning against Red Sox left-hander Drew Pomeranz. The big blow of the inning was shortstop J.J. Hardy's three-run homer over the Green Monster on a full-count fastball over the outer half of the plate.

Hardy reached base three times, adding two walks, and is hitting .306 (11-for-36) in 11 September games. With three homers, the Orioles increased their major league-leading home run total to 231. Nolan Reimold followed Hardy with a two-run blast in the second and Jonathan Schoop, who had three hits, opened the ninth with a solo homer over the Green Monster that provided added cushion.

Orioles rookie right-hander Dylan Bundy overcame some early control issues to hold the Red Sox to three runs over 5 1/3 innings before handing the game over to the bullpen. Bundy steers out of long second inning: Bundy labored through a 33-pitch second inning, uncharacteristically issuing a pair of one-out, bases loaded walks to No. 9 hitter Ryan Hanigan and leadoff man Dustin Pedroia.

He was able to avoid further damage by striking out Xander Bogaerts and inducing an inning-ending groundout from David Ortiz. The 23-year-old then seemed to find his groove, despite a high pitch count. Over one stretch, he retired eight of nine batters before allowing a leadoff homer to Bogaerts to open the fifth.

Bundy (9-5) left a man on and exited the game two outs shy of a quality start. Reliever Tommy Hunter came in and induced an inning-ending double-play ball from Hanigan.

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"Second inning was probably one of the keys to the game, didn't let it get away from him," Showalter said of Bundy. "If you look at the people he was facing, they got -- there's nothing fancy about it -- they've got Wiffle ball numbers, most of their guys, it seems like. … You try to make quality pitches. He attacked a little more. He got out of sync a couple of times, but he got right back in it."

Bundy issued four walks, and has walked 17 batters over his last five starts (he walked just six over his first five starts).

"Kind of lost the zone for a little bit," Bundy said. "Normally you try to get it back quicker than that, but it just didn't happen. Good team win. I'm happy about it. … [The second inning] could have been a lot worse. It could have been 6-5. Or something like that. It could have been way worse."

Reimold launches homer

Nolan Reimold, who could see his playing time increase with Steve Pearce out indefinitely with an arm injury, capped the Orioles' five-run second inning with a two-run homer over the Green Monster.

"Definitely feels good," Reimold said. "Glad I was able to do it and do something positive and come away with the win, too."

Reimold has struggled in the second half while getting scattered playing time, entering the gamer hitting just .137 with no RBIs over his last 31 games (14 starts).

"I've scuffled a lot," Reimold said. "I do that sometimes. I go through stretches where it looks like I've never played before, but it just takes longer to break out of it unless you're an everyday guy. It was good to have a good game and help the team and we look forward to tomorrow."

For Reimold, who was making just his second start this month, it was his first homer since July 24, when he hit a two-run walkoff homer in the ninth inning for a 5-3 win to complete a three-game sweep of Cleveland at Camden Yards. Reimold also recorded his first multihit game since July 2.

Lights-out lefty

Former Orioles lefty Brian Matusz had been a valuable weapon against Ortiz over the years, but rookie Donnie Hart – the Orioles' current situational lefty – had his test against the Red Sox slugger Tuesday.

With one on and one out in the seventh, Hart entered the game to face Ortiz in a critical point in the game. Hart won a seven-pitch at bat against Ortiz – throwing all mid-70s sliders – by inducing a harmless flyout to left field. Lefties are now hitting .179 (5-for-28) against Hart.

"Guys like David they see the kitchen sink thrown at him so I'm sure we may get him out this time but he learns from it, you got to be careful next time," Showalter said. "He's such a dangerous guy each time up there. But the thing with Donnie, Donnie's not going to go back to the hotel or apartment going I wish I would have trust myself. No he did what he can do and I did what I can do. He won tonight and we'll see what happens next time."

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eencina@baltsun.com

twitter.com/EddieInTheYard

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