Red Sox Live Blog: Orioles Win 6-3, On Cusp of Playoff Spot

Red Sox Live Blog: Orioles Win 6-3, On Cusp of Playoff Spot
Final, Orioles 6-3: O's closer Jim Johnson needs just seven pitches to secure the series sweep. The Red Sox send up Scott Podsednik and James Loney to pinch hit, but Johnson dispatches both quickly. Yale's own Ryan Lavarnway hits a soft dribbler to third base to end the game.

Everything's coming up roses (or, since it's Maryland, Black-eyed Susans) for the Orioles. The O's will clinch a playoff spot if the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim lose to the Texas Rangers of Arlington. We'll provide a separate update if the O's clinch today.

Tune into NESN at 5:30 p.m. on Monday for the Red Sox' final series of the season. The Sox face the New York Yankees in the Bronx, where they'll get to have a say in the AL East race. Clay Buchholz will start for the Sox tomorrow night. We'll see you then.

End 8th, Orioles 6-3: Vicente Padilla relieves Chris Carpenter (the Red Sox version), then promptly gives up a walk to the gun show that is Matt Wieters. Padilla gets out of the jam after striking out Jim Thome and getting Mark Reynolds to hit into an inning-ending double play.

O's closer Jim Johnson is coming on in the ninth inning. Can the Sox rally in the ninth?

Mid 8th, Orioles 6-3: Joe Saunders strikes out Jacoby Ellsbury, then is taken out of the game. Saunders had a good day for the O's and leaves with a three-run cushion.

Dustin Pedroia gets on first against O's reliever Darren O'Day, but then gets caught stealing by O's catcher Matt Wieters. Cody Ross strikes out to end the inning.

End 7th, Orioles 6-3: Chris Carpenter (the Red Sox version) comes on in relief of Clayton Mortensen and gets into early trouble, giving up a single to Nate McLouth. The O's eventually place men on first and third with one out. Carpenter saves the day for the Sox, however, by getting Adam Jones to ground into an inning-ending double play. Joe Saunders is coming back on the mound for the O's in the eighth inning, where he'll face Jacoby Ellsbury.

Mid 7th, Orioles 6-3: Joe Saunders looks vulnerable in the top of the seventh, but gets out of the inning. By "vulnerable," we mean that he looks tired, not emotionally vulnerable.

Daniel Nava hits a one-out, two-run homer off Saunders, scoring himself and Yale's own Ryan Lavarnway. Saunders then gives up a single to Pedro Ciriaco, but Ciriaco gets caught between first and second in what appears to be a failed hit-and-run. Jose Iglesias then grounds out to first to end the inning.

End 6th, Orioles 6-1: Clayton Mortensen returns for the Sox in the sixth and shuts down the O's in order. Two fly balls from Mark Reynolds and Manny Machado looked like they had a shot to leave the yard, but that evil Baltimore wind just came in and snapped them back. Anyway, it's a good inning by Mortensen. Danny Valencia is up first for the Sox in the seventh.

Mid 6th, Orioles 6-1: The Red Sox' 2-3-4 hitters go down 1-2-3 in the sixth. O's pitcher Joe Saunders forces Dustin Pedroia, Mauro Gomez, and Cody Ross into consecutive fly-outs. Saunders has thrown only 71 pitches and looks calm on the mound, which doesn't bode well for the Sox. Mark Reynolds is up first for the O's in the bottom of the sixth.

End 5th, Orioles 6-1: Chris Davis starts the inning by taking Clayton Mortensen deep to right field. Clayton Mortensen sets the remaining O's down to end the inning. The Sox have a tall task at Camden Yards, and their best hope may be Dustin Pedroia, who bats first in the sixth.

Mid 5th, Orioles 5-1: J.J. Hardy proved worthy of his bobblehead day already with a third inning home run, and he's just done it again. The O's shortstop makes a diving stop of Jacoby Ellsbury's grounder to prevent the Sox from scoring in the fifth. Chris Davis is up first for the O's in the bottom of the fifth.

End 4th, Orioles 5-1: Clayton Mortensen stays in to pitch the fourth inning. He induces Manny Machado to foul out to Yale's own Ryan Lavarnway, who graduated from Yale prior to making the catch. Mortensen then strikes out Nate McLouth and gets J.J. Hardy to ground out. Daniel Nava bats first for the Sox in the fifth.

Mid 4th, Orioles 5-1: Cody Ross gets the Sox back into the game with a leadoff home run to left. NESN's Don Orsillo and Jerry Remy both called Ross the Sox' MVP this season, and Ross demonstrated why he deserves the title. O's rookie Manny Machado, the hero of last night's game, is up first for Baltimore in the bottom of the fourth.

End 3rd, Orioles 5-0: Zach Stewart is going to be special in this league one day, but today is not that day. J.J. Hardy hits a home run to left field, right after barely missing a deep shot to left off Stewart. Adam Jones then gets on with one out and steals second on an errant throw by Yale's own Ryan Lavarnway. Jones comes around to score on a single by Jim Thome. Zach Stewart is done after 2 2/3 innings. Clayton Mortensen come on in relief and gets the Sox out of the inning, but the Sox face a five-run hole heading into the fourth.

Mid 3rd, Orioles 3-0: Jose Iglesias legs out a double with one out, but both Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia ground out to third. Not simultaneously, of course. J.J. Hardy bats first for the O's in the bottom of the third.

End 2nd, Orioles 3-0: Zach Stewart calms down in the second inning. The O's hit three consecutive infield groundouts. The inning's highlight is a nice stab by Mauro Gomez for the first out of Ryan Flaherty. The Sox send Pedro Ciriaco up first in the third.

2:05 p.m.: Programming note: Tonight's Charlie Moore Outdoors will feature Sen. Scott Brown. Tune to NESN at 6 p.m. for Messrs. Brown and Moore.

Mid 2nd, Orioles 3-0: Yale's own Ryan Lavarnway, an alumnus of Yale, gives the Sox life in the second with a two-out double to left. Joe Saunders keeps the Sox scoreless, however, after striking out Daniel Nava, who did not attend Yale. Zach Stewart is back on the mound for the Sox in the second inning.

End 1st, Orioles 3-0: We asked how Zach Stewart would fare in the bottom of the first. Zach Stewart does not fare well in the bottom of the first. Zach Stewart gives up a homer in his first at-bat to Nate McLouth. Zach Stewart follows by giving up two base hits. Zach Stewart then hits Adam Jones with a pitch. Zach Stewart gets some help after a groundout with the bases loaded only scores one run, but then Zach Stewart gives up a hit by Jim Thome to score another run. It's O's 3, Sox 0.

Mid 1st, 0-0: Joe Saunders takes approximately 37 seconds to shut down the Red Sox in order. He's looking as strong as ever. How will Zach Stewart fare in to bottom of the first for the Sox?

1:41 p.m. ET: We're underway in Baltimore. Joe Saunders is a giant.

11:20 a.m.: Lineups!

Red Sox

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
Mauro Gomez, 1B
Danny Valencia, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Daniel Nava, LF
Pedro Ciriaco, DH
Jose Iglesias, SS

Zach Stewart, P

Orioles

Nate McLouth, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Chris Davis, RF
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C 
Jim Thome, DH
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Ryan Flaherty, 2B
Manny Machado, 3B

Joe Saunders, P

8 a.m. ET: The Red Sox are one game away from losing 90 games for the first time since 1966, and the red-hot Orioles are looking to make that nightmare a reality. 

Boston will send right-hander Zach Stewart to the mound for just his second appearance for the club since he came over from the White Sox in the trade that sent Kevin Youkilis to Chicago. In Stewart's lone start with the Red Sox this season, he couldn't have been worse, allowing nine earned runs on 10 hits in three innings of work against the Angels. Stewart will have to watch out for J.J. Hardy, who is 3-for-4 against him with a home run in his career.

Baltimore will also be starting a pitcher who was acquired mid-season, Joe Saunders. The Orioles picked up Saunders from the Diamondbacks in mid-August to provide more depth in the starting rotation. He is 2-3 in six starts with the O's, allowing 15 earned runs in 37 1/3 innings.

Saunders has owned several Red Sox hitters in the past, including Jacoby Ellsbury (3-for-13) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (1-for-11). If the 31-year-old left-hander can sustain success against those two, he could be the guy who helps the Orioles claim sole possession of first place in the American League East.

Entering Sunday's series finale, the Orioles and Yankees are tied atop the AL East with just a handful of games remaining. The Red Sox will close out their season with a three-game series at Yankee Stadium starting Monday, with those games possibly determining which of Boston's division rivals wins the AL East, and who could be watching the postseason at home.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. ET, but you can turn to NESN at 12:30 for Red Sox First Pitch. Or just stick around on NESN.com, as our Red Sox Live Blog will keep you updated with everything you need to know leading up to the game.

Red Sox (69-89)
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
Mauro Gomez, 1B
Danny Valencia, 3B
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Daniel Nava, LF
Pedro Ciriaco, DH
Jose Iglesias SS
Zach Stewart, P

Orioles (91-67)
Nate McLouth, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Chris Davis, RF
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C 
Jim Thome, DH
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Ryan Flaherty, 2B
Manny Machado, 3B
Joe Saunders, P

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