The Boston Red Sox own the best record in baseball, and they're hitting very well ahead of the postseason.
A victory in the regular-season finale Sunday over the Baltimore Orioles could provide even more momentum.
Boston (97-64) is bidding to win 98 games for the first time since 2004, when it went on to win the World Series for the first time since 1918.
The Red Sox were denied in their first attempt at matching that mark, losing 6-5 on Saturday.
That result, however, was rendered somewhat meaningless because Boston had already secured home-field advantage throughout the playoffs with Oakland's loss to Seattle earlier in the day. The Red Sox will face the wild-card winner - Cleveland, Tampa Bay or Texas - in Game 1 of the AL division series at Fenway Park on Friday.
"To know going into the postseason that for every series we go into, being able to play in front of Fenway fans and how comfortable and successful we've been at home, this is a good thing," manager John Farrell said.
Farrell surely thinks Boston's recent dominance at the plate is a good thing. His team is batting .371 with 32 runs and six homers in the last three games. Daniel Nava has been a catalyst, going 8 for 14 (.571) with a home run, three RBIs and five runs.
The outfielder was 4 for 4 Saturday, raising his career average against the Orioles (84-77) to .333.
The right-hander's best performance since returning may have been a two-hitter in a 3-1 win over Baltimore on Sept. 19. He struck out eight, while the only run he allowed coming on a seventh-inning homer by Adam Jones .
Lackey wasn't nearly that sharp five days later at Colorado, giving up four runs and three homers in six innings of an 8-3 loss.
Still, he's focused on being a factor in the postseason.
"I'm good to go," Lackey said. "Feel good."
Chris Tillman (16-7, 3.62) starts for the Orioles looking to wrap up his outstanding season with his first win in four starts. The right-hander ranks among the AL leaders in wins with a total that matches that of his previous four years.
Tillman, though, has been unable to earn his 17th win, going 0-2 with a 3.27 ERA in his last three starts while being backed by six total runs.
His most recent defeat came opposite Lackey on Sept. 19, when he allowed three runs - all in the second - with eight strikeouts in seven innings.
Unlike Lackey, Tillman followed that up with an impressive performance Tuesday, yielding one run and fanning nine in seven innings of a 3-2 loss in 10 to Toronto.
He's 4-1 with a 1.55 ERA over his last seven starts versus Boston, allowing only an unearned run in 21 innings while winning all three at home over that span.
Baltimore slugger Chris Davis is 11 for 30 (.367) with two homers and three doubles lifetime against Lackey. He enters the season's final day with a major league-leading 138 RBIs, one ahead of Detroit's Miguel Cabrera .
|Jackie Bradley Jr.||2||.000||0||0||0||0||1||.000||.000||.000|
|Boston Red Sox|
|September 01, 2013||Shane Victorino||Day-to-Day||Left hip contusion|
|August 29, 2013||Mike Carp||Day-to-Day||Left shoulder irritation|
|August 17, 2013||Mike Napoli||Day-to-Day||Sore left foot|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 08, 2013||Brandon Snyder||15-Day DL||Ulnar neuritis, right elbow|
|August 05, 2013||Matt Thornton||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
|September 26, 2013||Chris Dickerson||Day-to-Day||Hamstring|
|September 26, 2013||Chris Davis||Day-to-Day||Foot|
|September 25, 2013||Manny Machado||60-Day DL||Torn ligament, left knee|
|September 23, 2013||Manny Machado||Day-to-Day||Strained left knee|
|August 31, 2013||Eric Beaulac||15-Day DL||Torn labrum, right hip|
|August 28, 2013||Steve Pearce||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
BALTIMORE (AP) -- On the last day of the regular season, David Ortiz arrived at the ballpark wearing a white shirt with a pink floral design and a white coat with a bright red handkerchief stuffed in the pocket.
His Boston Red Sox teammates teased away, saying he looked like a waiter or a wedding guest, but the slugger would have none of it.
"You guys are always waiting for the best-looking guy on the team, right?" he said when reporters surrounded his locker.
Ortiz is all dressed up and has a place to go. The Red Sox wrapped up the regular season Sunday with a 7-6 loss to the Baltimore Orioles , a game that had an exhibition feel for the AL East champions as they look ahead to the playoffs.
"We are right where we need to be," Ortiz said. "You want to make sure that you're in the playoffs, and now it's all about surviving."
The Red Sox finished 97-65, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in baseball. Boston will open its division series at Fenway Park on Friday against the winner of the AL's wild-card playoff, a layoff so long that manager John Farrell is planning simulated games for Wednesday's workout.
"I think everybody's anticipating Friday, but we've still got some work to do before we get there," Farrell said, "whether that's finding out who we're going to play, but, more importantly, to continue to address not only the roster internally, but the work that we need to stay as sharp as possible."
Making liberal use of the bench and bullpen with home-field advantage in the postseason already clinched, the Red Sox blew a 5-0 lead and used seven pitchers. Rubby De La Rosa (0-2) gave up Baltimore's go-ahead run in the sixth.
T.J. McFarland (4-1), the second of four Orioles pitchers, threw one scoreless inning for the win.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 50th save, but not before allowing one run and nearly a second that would have tied the game. The Red Sox had men on first and third with one out when Will Middlebrooks ended the game by hitting into a 5-4-3 double play.
Johnson, who had 51 saves last year, became the second player in major league history with back-to-back 50-save seasons, joining Eric Gagne , who had 52 in 2002 and 55 in 2003.
The Orioles finished 85-77, giving them back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97, an achievement that hardly tempers the disappointment of not repeating last year's run to the playoffs.
The final blow came when Chris Davis sprained his left wrist in the fourth inning on a play at first base. X-rays were negative, but the injury ended his season a couple of hours earlier than expected. The player who accepted the Orioles' MVP award before the game walked off to a standing ovation, finishing tops in the majors in both homers (53) and RBIs (138).
"Nothing serious, no broken bones, no fractures, just sprained my wrist," Davis said. "They said it would probably be sore for a few days. It's not going to affect anything going into the offseason, nothing like that. I was really glad to hear that."
Davis was hurt on a nubber by Jacoby Ellsbury . The ball stopped only a few feet in front of home plate, and catcher Steve Clevenger 's throw hit Ellsbury on the left side of the back just as Ellsbury was arriving at the bag. Davis' attempt to catch the ball left his outstretched hand in the path of Ellsbury's torso.
Davis' glove flew off, and he immediately grabbed his wrist. He attempted a few throws under the supervision of the trainer before heading to the dugout.
"We dodged a bullet there, hopefully," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "Next week or two passes and he's still got problems, we'll go into more detail with it."
Davis' sub, Ryan Flaherty , picked up the slack, hitting an RBI single in a five-run fifth and a run-scoring double when the Orioles took the lead for good in the sixth.
With the four-day break to come, Red Sox manager Farrell wanted to give multiple innings to multiple pitchers. Scheduled starter John Lackey was scratched for Allen Webster , who threw three hitless innings. Felix Doubront pitched a scoreless fourth but fell apart in the fifth, retiring only one of the eight batters he faced as the Orioles scored five to tie the game.
"We got everybody to the mound that we hoped to," Farrell said. "We found some things out, at least in the short run."
Notes: Ellsbury began the game with his 10th career leadoff homer, breaking the club record held by Dom DiMaggio and Tommy Harper . ... Baltimore set a major league record with 54 errors in a 162-game season, 11 fewer than the previous mark set by the 2003 Mariners. ... The Red Sox finished the season with 39 consecutive successful stolen base attempts. Their 86.6 percentage for the season (123 for 142) is the best by an AL team since the statistic has been tracked in the league, starting in 1920. ... Orioles CF Adam Jones sat out with a sore right wrist, which he hurt while fouling off a pitch in the seventh inning of Saturday night's game. ... The Orioles drew more than 2.3 million, their best season attendance since 2005.
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