Late-Inning Surge Powers Red Sox’ 11-5 Win Over Orioles

Late-Inning Surge Powers Red Sox' 11-5 Win Over OriolesA Saturday night game in September when the Red Sox have all but guaranteed a spot in the playoffs can often take on a ho-hum feel. And ho-hum it was in this contest … until the seventh inning.

The Red Sox opened up a three-run lead on four consecutive hits by the heart of the order on the way to an 11-5 win over the Orioles. The victory is Boston's 15th in 17 games against Baltimore this season. Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer in the second inning at Camden Yards — the site of his only other long ball this season. The Red Sox also got back-to-back homers from J.D. Drew and Brian Anderson to turn a close game into a blowout in the top of the eighth inning.

Jon Lester was effective — if unspectacular — in his start, giving up two home runs and three runs overall in his six-plus innings of work. Throwing 102 pitches, he struck out just four Orioles but minimized the damage to pick up his 14th win of the season.

Boston's magic number to make the playoffs now stands at nine.

Red Sox 11, Orioles 5
Camden Yards, Baltimore, Md.
Sept. 19, 2009

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Headliner: Mike Lowell never complains about his decreased playing time. While there's probably a small part of him that knows the extra rest is good in the long-term plans for his hip, the competitor in him likely still wants to play every day.

The veteran third baseman made his case (yet again) on Saturday evening, going 3-for-4 with two crucial RBIs. The first RBI tied the game at three runs apiece in the top of the sixth. Lowell followed that at-bat with an RBI single in the seventh to expand the Sox' lead to 6-3.

He also contributed defensively, making a pair of assists on softly hit grounders down the line and snagging a hot shot off the bat of Nick Markakis and easily retiring him at first base to end the third inning.

Dirt Dog: Many players placed in the situation that Victor Martinez was in would have done the easy thing. With Dustin Pedroia representing the go-ahead run at second base (thanks to a well-timed and well-executed steal) in the seventh inning, Martinez's job was to move the runner to third.

With a 3-2 count, Martinez — batting lefty — got a pitch that was at least eight inches outside. He could have easily taken the walk, trotted on down to first and hoped his teammates would take care of the rest. Instead, Martinez somehow reached across the plate to ground the ball to the right side, moving Pedroia to third. It went in the books as a 4-3 putout, but its value was immense. The Red Sox then unloaded with consecutive hits from Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, Drew and Lowell to take and extend a lead.

They might never have had the opportunity if Martinez hadn't done the dirty work.

Better Luck Next Time: Manny Delcarmen entered a game that was, for all intents and purposes, over. The righty struggled, however, giving up back-to-back home runs to Ty Wigginton and Felix Pie before surrendering back-to-back walks to Guillermo Rodriguez and Jeff Fiorentino to start off the ninth inning. It wasn't enough to sink the Red Sox, but it's hardly an outing that inspires confidence in Delcarmen.

Key Moment: After Martinez had set the table for Youkilis, the chants of "Yoooouk" resounded throughout the opposing team's park. Youkilis didn't disappoint, hitting a curveball for a single with a full count to put the Sox on top.

On Deck: Can the Red Sox finish the season with a 16-2 record against the Orioles? That question will be answered on Sunday afternoon, when Daisuke Matsuzaka, fresh off an encouraging performance at home, takes the mound in Baltimore. He'll be opposed by rookie right-hander Jason Berken (5-11, 6.08 ERA). First pitch is at 1:35 p.m.

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