Davis' blooper leads to Orioles' extra-inning victory over Red Sox
BALTIMORE -- Last season, the Orioles and Boston Red Sox played four extra-inning games against each other, including games of 17, 13 and 12 innings.
The Orioles won all four of those games, mainly because their stellar bullpen kept compiling scoreless innings until the bats could do their job _ except for that 17-inning game last May in Boston, when the Orioles needed a little help from Chris Davis on the mound.
This time, Davis -- who has become a star this season with incredible run-production numbers - helped the Orioles bullpen with his bat, hitting a walk-off single with two outs in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Orioles a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Camden Yards to end a four-hour, 35-minute marathon.
Not only did the Orioles (38-29) gain a game on American League East-leading Boston in the opener of this important four-game series, but they also moved into second place in the AL East after the New York Yankees' 3-2 18-inning loss in Oakland.
"I think we have a newfound confidence in our division," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. "We know that this division is going to be tough. We were cellar dwellers for some years, and now we just want to come out and give it our all every day, especially against the division."
The Orioles continued their recent dominance of Boston, beating the Red Sox for the 12th time in their past 16 meetings. The Orioles have also won nine of their past 13 games against the Red Sox at Camden Yards.
The Orioles used seven pitchers on the night, and the final five combined to throw 6-1/3 scoreless innings of relief, retiring the final 10 hitters they faced and 18 of 19. Perhaps more important was will be the carry-over through the rest of the series as both bullpens were drained.
Before scoring the winning run, the Orioles stranded 14 baserunners on the night, including five in scoring position, and were 3-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
But Nick Markakis drew a two-out walk in the 13th, then moved to second on Adam Jones' opposite-field single to right.
That set the stage for Davis, who had struck out in three of his previous four at-bats. He took a 1-1 fastball from Alex Wilson and dropped a game-winning single in front of Jonny Gomes in left, sparking a celebration near first base.
"It was a lot of fun, Davis said. "Obviously both teams were battling out there to get a run and both bullpens (were) pretty stout late in the game. Honestly, I was just trying to get jammed out there, took a few swings late in the game where I was just swinging way to hard, trying to win it with one swing instead of just trying to put the ball in play. Good things happen when you simplify it."
The O's bullpen kept Baltimore in the game through the late innings and into extras. Tommy Hunter retired all six batters he faced through the eighth and ninth innings and Darren O'Day tossed a scoreless 10th, striking out Shane Victorino on a 3-2 pitch to strand the go-ahead run at second base.
Jim Johnson needed just 10 pitches to retire the Red Sox in order in the 12th and long-relief lefty T.J. McFarland threw a scoreless 13th to earn his first major-league win.
"You've got two teams with great bullpens," Markakis said. "You look at any good team and good teams are going to have good bullpens. You know it's a battle after that. You know after the ninth inning it's hard to come by hits. We were fortunate. We got a nice bloop two-out hit there, good placement and we won the game."
The Red Sox came back from a two-run seventh-inning deficit to tie the game at 4. Boston opened the inning with three straight singles off left-hander Brian Matusz. They scored one run on Stephen Drew's sacrifice fly to center and tied the game when Jacoby Ellsbury beat out a double-play throw to first. Ryan Flaherty's toss to second to start the potential double-play was wide and slowed J.J. Hardy's throw to first.
Through five big league starts, Orioles rookie pitcher Kevin Gausman has saved his best for his toughest opponents. The 22-year-old right-hander has struggled at times, but has thrown his two best games against the top two hitting lineups in the American League.
Opening up an important four-game series against the Red Sox, Gausman held them to two runs on six hits over 5-1/3 innings.
Gausman allowed seven runs in 4-1/3 innings on Saturday in Tampa Bay in his last start, but held a heavy-hitting Detroit lineup to one run on five hits in his previous outing.
But Gausman managed to keep the Red Sox offense off balance, utilizing a devastating split-fingered changeup that tailed down and away to left-handed hitters. Four of Gausman's five strikeouts came on the split-change.
Gausman left the game with one on and one out in the sixth, but Matusz preserved the lead by inducing a popup from David Ortiz and striking out Mike Carp looking. Ortiz is now 1-for-16 in his career with four strikeouts against Matusz.
The Orioles orchestrated a three-run rally in the third inning to open the scoring, fueled by Danny Valencia's solo homer to open the frame off Boston starter Felix Doubront.
Valencia's homer was his fourth this season in 13 games with the Orioles this season. He had just three homers in 44 games with the Twins and Red Sox last season.
Ryan Flaherty immediately followed with a bloop double to left field and following Nate McLouth's sacrifice bunt, Manny Machado hit a broken-bat single up the middle off the fists to score Flaherty.
Three batters later, Davis drove in his 55th run of the season with two-out single that brought in Machado from third.
The Red Sox rebounded with back-to-back solo homers off Gausman in the fourth inning. Ortiz took a 1-1 delivery for a ride into the center-field bleachers for his 14th homer of the season when Gausman left a 97-mph fastball waist-high and over the plate.
Carp, who entered the game for Mike Napoli (illness) in the bottom of the third, hit a 2-2 changeup beyond the center-field fence for his seventh homer of the season.
The Orioles tacked on another run in the fifth on Matt Wieters' two-out single, but left the bases loaded when Valencia popped up to short to end the inning off reliever Franklin Morales.