It's been more than two years since the Boston Red Sox won two straight against the Baltimore Orioles .
Just as surprising is Jon Lester 's lack of success lately in this matchup.
The visiting Red Sox look to avoid a seventh consecutive series loss to the Orioles on Sunday.
Wins against Baltimore have been very hard to come by lately for Boston, which had lost six of eight in the season series and 25 of 35 overall to the Orioles before Stephen Drew homered twice and matched a career high with five RBIs in a 7-3 victory Saturday."The past couple of games, I've felt good at the plate but had no luck," Drew said. "It's just good to turn around and have a good outcome. It was also a good win. That's what we really needed."
The Red Sox (62-43) have lost the last six series to their AL East rivals and haven't won two in a row over the Orioles during that 35-game span. Their last back-to-back wins against them came during a 7-0 run April 28-July 18, 2011.
Boston posted a 71-28 record against Baltimore starting in 2006 and ending with those seven consecutive wins.
Lester was responsible for a good portion of that success, going 14-0 with a 2.33 ERA in his first 17 starts against the Orioles. But he's 0-2 with a 5.25 ERA in the past four, allowing five runs and nine hits over five innings in a 6-3 loss at Camden Yards on June 16.
Lester (9-6, 4.50 ERA) has a chance for three straight quality starts for the first time since May. He has a 3.55 ERA in his last two outings after compiling a 7.08 mark in his previous six.
Extra rest seemed to help the left-hander Tuesday in a 6-2 win over Tampa Bay. He allowed two runs with no walks over 6 1-3 innings and matched a season high with eight strikeouts. Lester had been scheduled to make his first start after the All-Star break on Sunday, but that was delayed to give him nine days of rest."He was strong," manager John Farrell said of Lester, who has a 5.37 ERA in 11 starts on regular rest in 2013. "It seems like the added rest did him some good."
Saturday's loss was the fourth in five games for the Orioles (58-47), who had their home-run streak against the Red Sox stopped at 11 games - one shy of the club record.
Chris Davis went 1 for 3 with a walk and two strikeouts, the 21st consecutive game in which the major league home run leader has struck out. He has fanned eight times in his last three contests and hasn't homered since hitting No. 37 on July 14.Asked how he was feeling at the plate, Davis replied, "I felt really awesome, like a unicorn riding through a rainbow with a pot of gold at the end of it. You know, you go through slumps during the season. I was very fortunate to have very few in the first half."
Struggling Jason Hammel (7-7, 5.20) will try to reverse his own fortunes and help the Orioles avoid their first series home loss since May.
Hammel is 0-5 with a 5.47 ERA in nine starts since beating Washington on May 27. He allowed 10 hits for the second straight start and walked a season-high four, but limited Kansas City to three runs over six innings in a 3-2 loss Tuesday.
Hammel went 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox last season, both at Fenway Park.
|Boston Red Sox|
|July 19, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|July 13, 2013||Andrew Bailey||15-Day DL||Right shoulder strain|
|July 09, 2013||Alex Wilson||15-Day DL||Sprained right thumb|
|July 08, 2013||Jacoby Ellsbury||Day-to-Day||Sore left wrist|
|July 07, 2013||Andrew Miller||60-Day DL||Left foot surgery - out for season|
|June 29, 2013||Stephen Drew||15-Day DL||Right hamstring tightness|
|July 14, 2013||Nolan Reimold||60-Day DL||Nerve inflammation in cervical spine|
|June 20, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist tendinitis|
|June 17, 2013||Jason Hammel||Day-to-Day||Illness|
|June 06, 2013||Steve Johnson||15-Day DL||Strained left oblique|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
|May 24, 2013||Pedro Strop||15-Day DL||Lower back strain|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- David Ortiz put his bat to good use, Jon Lester rekindled his dominance of the Baltimore Orioles and the Boston Red Sox climbed back into first place in the AL East.
All in all, the Red Sox couldn't have found a better way to end a whirlwind weekend.
Lester allowed four hits over seven innings, Ortiz went 4 for 4 with his 20th home run and Boston used a 5-0 victory Sunday to earn their first series win over the Orioles in two years.
As a bonus, the Red Sox took a half-game lead over Tampa Bay, which lost to the Yankees. Boston stood atop the division for 60 straight days before a defeat Friday night ended the run. The Rays visit Fenway Park for a makeup game Monday night.
Mike Napoli had two doubles and an RBI for the Red Sox, who took two of three from the third-place Orioles. Boston had lost six straight series to Baltimore since a four-game sweep in July 2011.
All four hits against Lester (10-6) were singles. He struck out eight, walked two and did not allow a runner past second base. The right-hander improved his lifetime record against the Orioles to 15-2, although he lost his previous two decisions against them.
"They've always been a tough team to pitch against," Lester said of the Orioles. "They've always had a great offensive lineup. Our guys did a good job today with (Orioles starter Jason) Hammel, making him work and giving me a couple of runs, giving me a cushion to work with."
On Saturday night, Ortiz shattered the casing of two dugout phones with his bat after being ejected from the game. On Sunday, he opted to take his swings at Baltimore pitchers.
Asked if he took a different attitude into the game because of his outburst on Saturday, Ortiz replied, "No, no. It's the opposite. You've got to make sure you don't get out of your game. Sometime when you get excited it gets worse. Just go out there like I normally do."
Ortiz hit a two-run shot off Hammel (7-8) in the third inning to put Boston up 3-0. Big Papi has 12 consecutive 20-homer seasons, the last 11 with Boston. Only Ted Williams , with 16, had more as a member of the Red Sox.
Ortiz also had three singles, tying his season high in hits.
"After taking it out on the phone ... he took it out on the baseball today," manager John Farrell said. "It was good to see."
With Ortiz and Lester leading the way, the Red Sox got a coveted victory.
"Especially in this situation where we are fighting with Tampa for first place," Ortiz said. "It's something we need."
Hammel allowed three runs, six hits and a career-high tying five walks in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander is 0-6 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts since May 27.
"It's obviously very frustrating. I am not doing what I know I can do," Hammel said. "But it could be a lot worse. If I was in my younger years, I would get myself into trouble like that, then you could really implode. So that's not happening."
Baltimore's Chris Davis went 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. He has not added to his major league-leading home run total of 37 since July 14, and he has struck out in 22 straight games - including 10 in the last four games.
It was only the fourth time this season the Orioles have been blanked, tied with Tampa Bay for lowest in the AL.
Blame it on Lester, their old nemesis.
"You know what you're going to get with him," leadoff hitter Nick Markakis said. "You know it's going to be a battle. He wasn't locating his pitches the best I've seen him. But he was still effective, especially with guys on base."
Hammel needed 27 pitches to get out of a rocky first inning. After a two-out RBI double by Napoli put runners at second and third, Mike Carp struck out.
Ortiz made it 3-0 in the third with an opposite-field drive to left following a single by Jacoby Ellsbury .
In the eighth, Ortiz singled and Napoli doubled before Jarrod Saltalamacchi hit a two-run single.
NOTES: In the makeup from Thursday's rainout, Red Sox LHP Felix Doubront (7-4) will face Rays LHP David Price (5-5). ... Baltimore recalled OF L.J. Hoes from Triple-A Norfolk and designated pitcher Jairo Asencio for assignment. Hoes went 0 for 3 in his third major league game. ... Boston improved to an AL-best 20-11 in day games. ... Baltimore fell to 9-5 in the pivotal game of a three-game series. ... Napoli has had multiple extra-base hits in 11 games this season. ... Ortiz has reached base in 32 of his last 34 games.