In a season full of surprises for the Baltimore Orioles , their success against the Boston Red Sox could be the biggest.
Surging Baltimore looks to take a step closer to a rare season series win over the Red Sox on Wednesday night when these AL East rivals continue a three-game set.
With 14 straight losing seasons, it comes as no surprise that the Orioles have struggled mightily against the Red Sox in recent years. Baltimore went 42-84 versus Boston from 2005-2011 and has won the season series once since 1996, going 10-9 in 2004.
This, however, has been a season of change for both teams, with the Orioles (63-53) in playoff position while the Red Sox (57-60) may be headed for their first losing season since 1997.
Baltimore improved to 7-3 against Boston in 2012 with a 7-1 victory in Tuesday's series opener. Mark Reynolds ' second homer of the night capped a five-run sixth inning as the Orioles remained in possession of one of the AL's two wild card spots with their eighth win in 10 games.
"We've been playing really well against them all year," said designated hitter Chris Davis , who had two hits and an RBI. "It was big for us to get the win and kind of set the tone for the series."
With six weeks still remaining, Baltimore is six wins away from matching last season's total and is 23-19 against the AL East after going 28-44 in 2011.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, have lost nine of 13 this month and their woes aren't limited to on the field.
"I know the coaches had a meeting, Bobby had a meeting, we all had a meeting," Pedroia said. "Basically when I spoke I said we all had to be better. That means the owners, Bobby, coaches, especially the players. I have had one problem with Bobby earlier in the year and I went into his office and talked to him like a man and he talked to me like a man. And we've been great. We've had a great relationship."
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury went 2 for 5 to extend his hitting streak against Baltimore to 37 games, during which he's batting .416. It is the longest hit streak ever versus the Orioles franchise and the longest by a Red Sox player against any team.
Ellsbury will try to extend his streak against scheduled starter Miguel Gonzalez (4-2, 3.42 ERA), who is on an impressive run of his own.
Since getting hit hard by Tampa Bay on July 25 while pitching through the flu, the right-hander has gone 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA in his past three starts. He pitched a career-high eight innings in a 7-1 win over Kansas City on Friday, allowing one run and six hits while striking out five and walking one.
Gonzalez, who spent the past two seasons in the Red Sox organization, gave up one run in four innings of relief at Boston on June 7.
He'll be opposed by Aaron Cook (3-5, 4.70), who makes his first appearance in nine days. After going 0-4 with a 5.79 ERA in his previous five starts, the veteran right-hander regained control of his sinker and limited Texas to one run and six hits over seven innings during a 9-2 victory Aug. 6. Of his 21 outs, 15 came on groundballs.
Cook struggled in his only career outing against the Orioles on May 5, yielding seven runs and eight hits in 2 2-3 innings of an 8-2 loss at Fenway Park.
Baltimore's Wilson Betemit is 5 for 9 with a homer off Cook.
|Boston Red Sox|
|August 11, 2012||Will Middlebrooks||15-Day DL||Broken right wrist - out for season|
|August 06, 2012||Vicente Padilla||15-Day DL||Strained right biceps|
|July 31, 2012||Ryan Sweeney||60-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|July 31, 2012||Josh Beckett||Day-to-Day||Left game - lower back spasms|
|July 29, 2012||Daniel Nava||15-Day DL||Sprained left wrist|
|July 21, 2012||Mike Aviles||Day-to-Day||Turf toe|
|August 13, 2012||Troy Patton||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|August 02, 2012||Ryan Flaherty||15-Day DL||Bacterial infection|
|July 28, 2012||Jim Thome||15-Day DL||Herniated disc|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 16, 2012||Robert Andino||15-Day DL||Left shoulder subluxation|
|July 14, 2012||Jason Hammel||15-Day DL||Arthroscopic surgery, right knee|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- For five innings, the Baltimore Orioles couldn't muster a single hit against Boston right-hander Aaron Cook .
When the Orioles got their third look at the sinkerballer, things changed in a hurry.
Baltimore sent 10 batters to the plate during a five-run sixth and beat the Red Sox 5-3 Wednesday night to move a game ahead of Tampa Bay for the top AL wild-card spot.
The Orioles trailed 2-0 before rallying against Cook, who fueled the uprising with a throwing error on a potential inning-ending, double-play comebacker. The miscue led to three unearned runs and saddled Cook (3-6) with his fourth loss in five starts.
"When you get the ground ball you have to cash in there," said Boston manager Bobby Valentine , who was ejected in the eighth. "We're in the dugout if he makes the play."
Cook allowed only a pair of walks through the first five innings and got 13 of 15 outs on grounders. The first out in the sixth also came on a groundball, and then the trouble began.
"He started to get it up," Baltimore's Adam Jones said. "You start to see somebody three times, you get him."
Nick Markakis walked and J.J. Hardy lined a single to left. Nate McLouth hit an RBI single, and with runners on the corners Jones hit a bouncer to Cook, who threw wildly to second as Hardy scored the tying run.
"It's a play I've made a 100 times," Cook said. "I just didn't get my feet set. We lost because I made an error."
Matt Wieters put the Orioles in front and chased Cook with an opposite-field, ground-rule double to left. Andrew Miller got Chris Davis to hit a grounder to drawn-in second baseman Dustin Pedroia , who threw home. Jones lowered his left shoulder and ran hard into catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia , who applied the tag for the second out.
"It was fun. It was awesome," Jones said of the collision. "It was much needed.
Mark Reynolds followed with a two-run double off Junichi Tazawa for a 5-2 lead, and that was enough to propel the Orioles (64-53) to their ninth win in 11 games.
"I feel like we just don't give up," Hardy said. "We know that at any point we can go out there and score runs."
Baltimore is alone in second place in the AL East and making a run at the postseason, but manager Buck Showalter says it's too early to get excited.
"There's so much baseball to be played and so many (teams) involved in this that I think it's counterproductive to dwell on it because things can change so quickly in a week's time," he said.
Rookie Miguel Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings for the Orioles and Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 35th save in 38 tries. The game ended with rookie third baseman Manny Machado making a diving stab of Nick Punto 's liner down the line.
Carl Crawford had two RBIs for the Red Sox, who have lost six of eight to fall four games under .500 (57-61) for the first time since May 13.
Cleanup hitter Adrian Gonzalez and Valentine were both ejected in the eighth inning for arguing with home plate umpire Mike Everitt.
Both contended that Orioles reliever Pedro Strop threw a quick pitch to Gonzalez, who bounced out to second.
"I wasn't even set," Gonzalez said. "I was just sitting there waiting for him to come set so I can get into my stance. We're trying to win a game. I'm the leadoff hitter, down two runs, trying to get on base."
Crawford got Boston to 5-3 in the seventh with a run-scoring groundout, but Boston went down in order in the eighth and ninth.
The Red Sox are 3-8 against Baltimore this season and have lost five of the past six series between the teams dating to last season.
Limited to two singles and a walk through four innings, Boston grabbed a 2-0 lead in the fifth. After Scott Podsednik and Punto singled, Jacoby Ellsbury doubled in a run and Crawford followed with a sacrifice fly.
NOTES: Omar Quintanilla made the first and last outs in the Baltimore sixth. ... Boston DH David Ortiz was told to stop running for a few days as he attempts to return from a right Achilles strain. He's been on the DL since July 18. ... Orioles INF Wilson Betemit will have an MRI performed on his sore right wrist "to see if there's anything more than tendinitis," Showalter said. ... Boston RHP Clay Buchholz pitches in the series finale against Baltimore's Chris Tillman . All three of Buchholz's career shutouts have come against Baltimore. ... Orioles DH Jim Thome , who's on the DL with a herniated disk, served as an assistant scout Tuesday night while pitching prospect Dylan Bundy threw for Double-A Bowie. ... Ellsbury has a 38-game hitting streak against Baltimore dating back to April 17, 2009.