Orioles let game slip away vs. Red Sox
BOSTON –- The Orioles knew it was going to be difficult to equal last season. A year ago, they were an astounding 29-9 in one-run games.
After Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox before 31,962 at Fenway Park, they’ve dropped eight straight one-run games and are an awful 14-24 in them.
“I’d rather be lucky than good, but I think we’re pretty good, too,” Tommy Hunter insisted.
Hunter (3-3) was charged with the loss after Mike Carp’s flare flew just past Manny Machado into short left field.
“I’ve got a couple of those losses on those one-run games. I’ll take a big part of the blame on that, but it is what it is. The baseball’s bouncing a different way right now, and hopefully it changes course the last month.”
There’s not much time left. The Orioles (70-61) now trail the Red Sox (79-55) by 7 ½ games in the American League East and are 4 ½ out in the Wild Card.
“That’s a good club over there,” Bud Norris said. “But we didn’t get the bounce tonight.”
With the game tied at 3, Hunter (3-3), the fifth Orioles pitcher relieved Brian Matusz with one out in the eighth. He struck out Mike Napoli, but allowed Jarrod Saltalamacchia to double off the left field wall. Stephen Drew was intentionally walked, and Carp, pinch-hitting for Xander Bogaerts, got the fateful hit.
“I thought I had it. Just a little bit short. Jumped too early,” Machado said.
Craig Breslow (4-2) retired the two hitters he faced in the eighth. Koji Uehara worked a spotless ninth for his 14th save.
The Orioles led until the seventh. Machado beat out an infield single with one out in the top of the first. He scored on Chris Davis’ double to right.
In the third, Brian Roberts led off with a walk, stole second, but was out trying to steal third as he tumbled over Bogaerts. Machado followed with his 12th home run of the year off John Lackey for a 2-0 lead.
Norris didn’t allow a hit for the first two innings, striking out the side in the second. Drew walked to lead off the third. Adam Jones made a circus catch in center to rob Bogaerts of a possible extra-base hit. Jacoby Ellsbury singled and Drew came home on Shane Victorino’s single.
After Dustin Pedroia walked to load the bases, Norris struck out David Ortiz and Daniel Nava, ending the inning with a 2-1 lead.
Davis hit his 47th home run of the year to lead off the sixth. Only Brady Anderson (50 in 1996) and Frank Robinson (49 in 1966) have more. His two RBI give him 120, eighth best in team history.
Norris was removed with one on and one out in the sixth. Francisco Rodriguez quickly ended the inning to get Saltalamacchia to hit into a double play.
In 5 1/3 innings, Norris allowed a run on four hits. He walked four, which equaled his season high and struck out seven.
“It's an unbelievable environment. That's what you play the games for, for games like this. Being in a pennant race down the stretch. I was a little overwhelmed at first, trying to control my emotions and everything. I thought I did a good job with that. I felt great out there the whole time. Just trying to get comfortable on the mound and all the rest is something very important," Norris said.
The Orioles had won Norris’ previous five starts.
In the bottom of the seventh, Drew doubled and with one out, J.J. Hardy prevented Ellsbury’s single from scoring Drew by keeping it in the infield. Darren O’Day relieved Rodriguez. Ellsbury stole second. After Victorino lined to second, Pedroia singled to score Drew and Ellsbury to enable Boston (79-55) to tie the score at 3.
Matusz retired Ortiz on a fly to center to end the seventh.
Lackey worked 7 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.
After Davis’ home run, the Orioles had just one hit, a single by Roberts in the seventh.
“Luck hasn't been on our side. We've been struggling lately. It's been like that the whole year, but there's a lot of baseball left to be played,” Machado said.
The Orioles were left to lament a game that looked as if they could have won it.
“I don’t think we ever had it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s not necessarily one that got away.”
NOTES: Chris Tillman (14-4, 3.66) faces Jon Lester (12-7, 3.97) in the final game of the series on Thursday night.
-The Orioles will be Boston’s opponent on Patriots’ Day next season. That will mark the one-year anniversary of the tragic marathon bombings.