Orioles beat Boston Red Sox as Kevin Gausman outduels ex-prospect Eduardo Rodriguez

Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman has learned he won't make a career out of his mid-90s fastball alone, and that the key to his success at the major league level lies in his ability to throw his secondary pitches effectively.

In Monday night's series opener against the Red Sox, the Orioles' 24-year-old right-hander baffled Boston's bats by mixing his arsenal, pitching six scoreless innings in a 2-0 win before an announced 19,666 at Camden Yards.


The Orioles (70-73), who have won five of their past six games, moved into sole possession of third place in the American League East, ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays, who lost to the New York Yankees, 4-1.

With 19 games remaining, the Orioles are still six games back of the second AL wild-card spot, but their recent surge leaves them with something to play for.


"Obviously, we hit a snag in mid-August to the beginning of September, but we've still got games on the schedule and we still have fans showing up," said center fielder Adam Jones, who was responsible for both of the Orioles runs Monday. "We still have pride. We're still playing for something. Until we're out of it, until that Game 162 and they say, 'You guys got to go home,' we're going to play hard."

Gausman outdueled former Orioles pitching prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, who allowed just one run on five hits over 51/3 innings.

But the Red Sox (68-75) managed just two hits off Gausman and had three for the game as the Orioles posted their 10th shutout of the season.

Gausman (3-6) overcame an early high pitch count — he had a 29-pitch first inning and had 76 entering the fifth — to get through six innings. He recorded his first win since Aug. 1, ending a seven-start winless streak.

"They made him work," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "When guys have good stuff, as a hitter, you make a living out of swinging at stuff that appears as something you can put in play firmly. And the guys with the better stuff are going to have higher pitch counts, for the most part, until they kind of figure things out. But I thought Kevin, he pitched as much as threw today. He had a lot of things at his disposal."

After scoring 28 runs and hitting 10 homers in their three-game series against the Kansas City Royals this past weekend, the Orioles scored just two runs and didn't homer Monday. That was OK with Jones.

"Hey, we like home runs," Jones said. "There's nothing wrong with trotting around the bases. Any way you can win, you win. Tonight, we were fortunate to get one. … As long as you score more than them, it doesn't matter."

Rodriguez, who was dealt to the Red Sox at last year's nonwaiver trade deadline in exchange for reliever Andrew Miller, struck out a career-high nine batters and walked three.

The Orioles' only run off Rodriguez came in the bottom of the first, when Nolan Reimold scored from third base on second baseman Josh Rutledge's fielding error.

Rutledge charged Jones' grounder, attempted to tag Manny Machado going from first to second, missed, then dropped the ball transferring it from his glove.

Jones drove in the Orioles' other run with a two-out RBI double off right-hander Jean Machi in the seventh inning, hitting a ball into the right-center-field gap that scored Chris Davis from first.

Gausman's high pitch count was partly due to his season-high four walks, but he didn't let his wildness hurt him. He was able to mix his split-fingered fastball with four-seamers and an occasional slider.


He loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning but emerged unscathed after he got Rusney Castillo to line out to second baseman Jonathan Schoop and Blake Swihart to fly out to center. Gausman also stranded two base runners in the first inning after issuing a pair of walks.

"Four walks isn't great, but I felt like I pitched well with runners in scoring position, got myself out of some jams," Gausman said. "Anytime you walk guys to start an inning, you kind of put yourself in a bad situation."

After allowing a leadoff walk in the fifth, Gausman retired the final six batters he faced, four by strikeout. All four strikeouts came on the splitter.

"He was good," Showalter said. "I know he's going to be a little frustrated with the walks, but he was solid. I thought he had probably his best secondary stuff of the year."

Gausman continued his success at home this season, improving to 2-1 with a 1.58 ERA in six starts at Camden Yards, including five quality starts over that span.

Right-hander Darren O'Day put the tying run on base in the eighth, issuing a leadoff walk to Mookie Betts and allowing a pinch-hit single to Brock Holt. But after O'Day struck out Xander Bogaerts swinging on three straight sliders, left-hander Brian Matusz entered the game to face left-handed hitters David Ortiz and Travis Shaw.

Matusz induced a lineout to center from Ortiz, who is 3-for-27 lifetime against Matusz, then got Shaw to ground out to Davis at first to end the inning.

"You want to make quality pitches, but with Ortiz right there, obviously wanted to be safe, get the ball down in the zone, and fortunately, I was able to," Matusz said. "Fastball was away off the plate, Ortiz was right on top of the dish, and fortunately, I was able to get it off the end of the bat and Jonesey was there, so it worked out."

Closer Zach Britton retired the Red Sox in order in the ninth, recording his 33rd save. Britton needed a nice play from Machado, who snagged a high hop off the bat of Castillo and threw to first for the second out of the inning.


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