After losing seven straight to their personal bullies -- the Boston Red Sox -- the reeling Orioles badly wanted a win Tuesday night.
Perhaps no Oriole needed it more for his own sanity, though, than right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, whose hard luck had morphed into hard times recently in a season in which he leads the majors with 13 losses.
After two consecutive rough starts, Guthrie bounced back with a strong performance against a good offense in the Orioles' 6-2 win before an announced 32,314 at Camden Yards.
"This is a win that makes me feel really good," said Guthrie (4-13), who hadn't won since June26. "And I think the team feels really good about it."
The Orioles (39-55) have won three of four after dropping a season-high-tying nine straight this month. Tuesday was the first time they had beaten the first-place Red Sox (58-37) since April 27.
"It doesn't surprise me that it was, but I'm not going to walk around the locker room and go: 'Hey, seven straight. Let's go,'" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "We dwell on it for a very short period."
You have to turn back the calendar for the last time Guthrie had beaten the Red Sox -- May 13, 2008, his only win against Boston in his career. He had lost his other seven decisions against them, going 13 straight outings without a win.
It was just his fourth victory of 2011; he has one each in April, May, June and July.
"I'm obviously not a big win guy with just four of them," Guthrie joked. "Not a big win guy, but I'll take this one. They're a good team, so obviously you've got to play very well, pitch well, and then you have to hit against some of their top pitchers, day in and day out. They're a tough team to beat, and it's nice to beat them [as a club] for the first time since April."
For his teammates who have watched Guthrie struggle with a lack of run support and, lately, with his command, the victory was good to see.
"It seemed like he didn't have a win since '07," center fielder Adam Jones said. "We got him an early lead, and he was able to settle down, get comfortable."
Although he is not a free agent until after 2012, Guthrie has drawn interest in the trade market and is someone the Orioles likely would deal this month for the right offer. After two consecutive starts in which he had allowed six earned runs, he likely helped his trade value Tuesday while bringing his ERA down to 4.35.
After combining for 25 runs Monday in a 15-10 Red Sox win, the sides scored just five through 7 1/2 innings before Derrek Lee and Mark Reynolds hit back-to-back homers against Boston reliever Alfredo Aceves in the bottom of the eighth.
Lee's opposite-field, two-run shot was his 10th homer of the season. Reynolds followed with his 21st, a 414-foot blast to left for the Orioles' third pair of back-to-back homers of the year.
"We needed a win against them. They've been wearing us out. Jeremy gave us just what we needed, a great pitching performance," Lee said. "There's been more games [than] I could even think of where he should have won, or pitched well enough to win. This guy is a bulldog. He's an innings-eater, and the wins are going to come for him."
Throwing his biting slider, curveball and fastball for strikes throughout the warm evening, Guthrie held Boston to eight hits and just two runs in seven innings. He struck out four and, more important, walked one -- the first time in his past six starts he walked fewer than three batters.
"Throwing strikes obviously was the biggest difference, getting ahead of guys, being able to use the fastball to get people out as well as get ahead," said Guthrie, who turned in just his second quality start in his past seven outings. "It was nice to be able to recover there."
Both of Boston's runs against Guthrie came on a homer by Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the fifth. In six of the seven innings he pitched, Guthrie allowed at least one base runner, but he quickly minimized the damage. Twice he got inning-ending double plays, including a nifty one started by rookie Blake Davis' diving stop of a grounder in the first.
Guthrie's outing ended in the seventh when catcher Matt Wieters threw out Marco Scutaro attempting to steal with two outs and hot-hitting Jacoby Ellsbury at the plate. Guthrie pumped his fist and pointed to Wieters.
"A huge throwout right there. Ellsbury is one of their hotter hitters, not only on their team, but in the league," Guthrie said. "So any at-bat against him is tough. It was a big third out, one on the base paths. To not have to pitch to him was a big boost."
Jim Johnson relieved Guthrie and threw two scoreless innings for his first save of the season. He retired all six batters he faced.
The Orioles jumped out to the lead in the second on a double by Reynolds, who entered hitting .192 with runners in scoring position, and a groundout by Nolan Reimold. They added a third run on Wieters' two-out single in the third.
All three runs came against Boston rookie right-hander Kyle Weiland (0-1), who gave up three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out two.
It wasn't near enough to match Guthrie, who is not ready to say he has returned to form after one fine performance.
"This stretch was very frustrating. Now, [I have] to go out four days from now or five days from now and have got to do it all over again," Guthrie said. "And everyone will forget about this, just like I forgot about the last few bad ones. The stretch is never over. You've always got to keep grinding. You can never relax, and you can never stop working."
An earlier version of this article gave the wrong type of hit for Saltalamacchia against Guthrie in the fifth inning. The Sun regrets the error.