BOSTON – Sometimes it’s the home run. This time it was the two-strike base hit.
Chris Davis always seems to come up big for the Orioles
On Wednesday night, his two-out, two-run single in the 12th was the decisive hit as the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 5-3 before 38,540 at Fenway Park.
The win put the Orioles (81-70) a game behind reeling Texas for the final wild-card spot. The Rangers lost to Tampa Bay in 12 innings.
Cleveland, which lost to Kansas City is a half-game ahead of the Orioles
“Who are you pulling for there?” manager Buck Showalter asked as he watched the winning run score for the Rays.
After the Orioles play the final game of a three-game series with the Red Sox (92-61) on Thursday night, they’ll have four vital games at Tampa Bay beginning Friday.
“We’ve got to try and do what we did tonight, otherwise it doesn’t matter,” Showalter said.
With one out in the 12th, J.J. Hardy singled, Brian Roberts singled. Both runners moved up on a wild pitch by Franklin Morales (2-2). Steve Pearce, batting for Nate McLouth, was walked intentionally. Manny Machado fouled out, and Davis singled up the middle on a 1-2 count.
“Anytime you’re in a game like that, you want to be the guy to get the hit, whether it’s a squibber up the middle or a home run. You can feel the intensity with both teams going out there trying to get a run. I’ll take it however I can get it,” Davis said.
T.J. McFarland (2-1), who pitched the 11th got the win. Jim Johnson worked the 12th for his 47th save.
For the second night in a row, the bullpen was spectacular, throwing 6 1/3 scoreless innings, following four shutout innings on Tuesday night.
Francisco Rodriguez, Kevin Gausman, Tommy Hunter, McFarland and Johnson allowed just four hits.
“You’re very cautious, and I’ve talked all through the year, very cautious about the health of your bullpen because there’s going to come a time in September where you’re going to have to go to the crop with them,” Showalter said. “We were trying to stay away from Chris Davis.”
Showalter can’t manage an extra-inning game in Boston without remembering Davis’ heroics in the Orioles’ 17-inning win in May 2012.
Even though Darren O’Day rejoined the team, he wasn’t available to pitch, Showalter said. He hopes he’ll be ready on Thursday.
Gausman was breathtaking, striking out five of the six batters he faced in the seventh and eighth.
“We kind of need someone to step up and I’ve been that guy the last two nights. [Showalter has] got a lot of confidence in me and I’m just trying to continue to pitch well and let that confidence grow in me,” Gausman said.
David Ortiz hit a long two-run home run in the bottom of the first off Wei-Yin Chen to give the Red Sox (92-61) a 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the third, Chen gave up a single to Dustin Pedroia, a bunt to Shane Victorino and an infield hit to Ortiz that he failed to cover first on.
Chen got out of trouble when Mike Napoli lined to Hardy and Jonny Gomes hit into a double play started by the pitcher.
Jake Peavy didn’t allow a hit until the fifth when Danny Valencia singled and scored on Matt Wieters’ double. Wieters scored on Roberts’ single to tie the score at 2.
In the top of the sixth, the Orioles took a 3-2 lead. Nick Markakis singled with two outs. Valencia singled, and Wieters’ ground-rule double scored Markakis.
Valencia has 10 multi-hit games in his last 17, and he’s batting .467.
Napoli’s 23rd home run of the season tied the score in the sixth.
Chen allowed three runs and a career-high 11 hits in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and walked none.
With so many teams and 11 games left to play, Davis says it’s simple.
"I think we obviously know what's going on with the race, and the fact there's another wild card team out there, it makes things more interesting. I think this is what they wanted when they threw in another wild card. But we've just got to go out there every day and focus on the nine innings in front of us, and I think that's actually kind of helped us the last few days,” Davis said.
NOTES: Fans who wish to buy tickets for potential playoff games can guarantee them by buying a full or partial season ticket plan for 2014 by 11:59 p.m. on Thursday. They can call 1-888-848-BIRD or do it online at www.orioles.com/postseason.
-The Orioles set a modern day record by completing their 114th errorless game.
-Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.70) faces John Lackey (9-12, 3.56) on Thursday night.