BOSTON – It was a big night for Chris Davis. It was a bigger night for the Orioles.
With their playoff chances murky, the Orioles could celebrate Davis’ big achievement and a win over the soon-to-be AL East champs.
Davis’ 51st home run set a new club record and tied the score. Danny Valencia’s ninth-inning triple was the eventual go-ahead run in the Orioles ‘ 3-2 win over the Boston Red Sox before 35,030 at Fenway Park on Tuesday night.
Coming into the ninth inning, the Orioles faced Koji Uehara, who had retired 37 consecutive batters and thrown 30 1/3 scoreless innings.
Valencia hit a leadoff triple and pinch runner Alexi Casilla scored on Matt Wieters’ sacrifice fly off Uehara (4-1).
“When you’re hitting home runs and your team’s not winning, it feels like it’s kind of for nothing. I was obviously glad to tie the game there and for us to hang in there and get a run off Koji,” Davis said.
Davis’ sixth-inning home run passed Brady Anderson’s record of 50, which was set in 1996. Anderson was waiting in the clubhouse for Davis.
“I took a deep breath when I hit 50, just to be tied with him, and in the same conversation. I think the biggest thing for me is to go out there and have quality at-bats and do what I can to help the team win,” Davis said.
Manager Buck Showalter was taken aback when told about Davis’ record, something that’s probably more important to fans than the players.
“I think the biggest thing it means tonight, and I think Chris will answer this, is was meaningful for us winning this game. And he's sincere about it,” Showalter said.
The Orioles (80-70) remain two games out of the wild card. Texas and Tampa Bay are tied, and Cleveland is 1 ½ games ahead of them.
“It is [complex] for everybody else, but it’s not for simple-minded people like myself and our team who just say, ‘We’ve got a game tonight, let’s win and let’s see where it takes us.’ I don’t even know who won or lost tonight. It doesn’t matter. We have to take care of business. It doesn’t matter if we don’t. The only thing is if you lose, you hope they do. If you sit there and try to dwell on any one team, you’ve got to dwell on yourself,” Showalter said.
Tommy Hunter (6-4), who retired both batters he faced in the eighth got the win. Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his 46th save.
Scott Feldman started and pitched five uneven innings, allowing two hits and a career-high six walks.
“That was an ugly one, but this time of the year, we got the win. We’ll take them any way we can get them,” Feldman said.
The Orioles committed three errors, their most since June 27, 2012 and Manny Machado made two in a game for the first time.
““We obviously didn’t play the best defense tonight, and that’s something we take a lot of pride in, but Feldy did a great job of keeping them off the bases and really keep them from scoring. Our bullpen came in and did a good job. It was definitely a good win,” Davis said.
Dustin Pedroia led off the first with his ninth home run of the year off Feldman..
The normally tidy Orioles defense came unglued in the fourth. Jarrod Saltalamacchia grounded to Machado, who was playing in short right field, but Machado overran the ball for an error. Stephen Drew walked.
The Red Sox (92-60) pulled off a double steal, giving them three for the game, and 35 straight stolen bases, the longest stretch in 20 years. Xander Bogaerts flied to Nate McLouth in left, who dropped it for an error, scoring Saltalamacchia with the second run.
The Orioles had just a hit and a walk off Ryan Dempster in the first four innings. In the fifth, Valencia led off with a walk. Wieters’ liner was snared by Pedroia at second. J.J. Hardy doubled, just his fourth hit in 34 at-bats against Dempster. Brian Roberts grounded to second, scoring Valencia.
With 12 games to go, these are desperate times for the Orioles, who probably need to win 10 of them to get in the playoff conversation
“This time of year, you’ve just got to grind it out, go for the next nine innings. These games are important. Obviously, these will make or break us,” Davis said.
NOTES: Wei-Yin Chen (7-7, 3.99) faces Jake Peavy (3-1, 3.66) on Wednesday.
-Machado had his 51st double. Only Brian Roberts (56 in 2009) has more. Roberts also hit 51 in 2008.
-Davis struck out two times. He has 184 strikeouts this season, 12 short of Mark Reynolds’ club record.