It wasn't easy, but the Red Sox eventually pulled away with their second consecutive win over the visiting Orioles. They had a little help from one of the biggest pinch-hits of Victor Martinez's life.
The Sox' catcher came off the bench in the seventh inning to provide just the spark Boston needed, blasting a bases-loaded double that broke a 4-4 tie and helped the Red Sox cruise to victory late. With a 7-5 win, the Sox finished off a two-game series sweep of Baltimore.
Paul Byrd was a little rusty on the mound for Boston, making it through five innings but allowing nine baserunners and never throwing a perfect inning. Jason Berken pitched into the sixth for Baltimore but allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits. He struck out three Red Sox and walked four.
Final: Red Sox 7, Orioles 5.
The O's get a run back on
a Luke Scott sacrifice fly, but it's not enough. Papelbon polishes off
the Orioles for his 35th save — it's his fourth consecutive season
saving 35 games or more for the Red Sox.
10:50 p.m.: For all the latest news and analysis on the Red Sox,
be sure to tune in to "Extra Innings" on NESN tonight. T.C. and Jim
will break down all the action of this week's two-game sweep of the
End 8th, 7-4 Sox: After reliever Sean Henn allows
back-to-back singles in the eighth with one out, Trembley goes to his
bullpen yet again. His seventh pitcher of the game is Cla Meredith, the former Red Sox reliever; Jason Bay singles off of Meredith to load the bases, but Dusty Brown then lines into a double play and ends the eighth inning. We're headed to the ninth.
Middle 8th, 7-4 Sox: From one flame-thrower to another: Tito turns to Daniel Bard to replace Wagner and pitch the eighth. But Bard allows a single and a walk to put two on, and that forces Jonathan Papelbon to enter with two outs in the eighth, in search of a four-out save. He needs just one out to finish the eighth — Nolan Reimold hacks at the first offering from Paps, and it's a groundout to short. Inning over.
End 7th, 7-4 Sox: Victor Martinez comes through with an
absolutely huge clutch hit to bust this game open — with one out and
the bases loaded, Victor comes out of the dugout to pinch-hit for George Kottaras.
He comes through with a deep fly ball to left-center field, clanging
off the base of the Green Monster and bouncing around in the gap. In
the meantime, the bases clear — Kevin Youkilis, Jason Bay and Brian Anderson all come fleeing home, and the Red Sox roll to a 7-4 lead. What a big hit for Victor Martinez.
Middle 7th, 4-4: Tito's turning to the big guns — he gets Billy Wagner
to pitch the seventh inning, and Wagner brings the heat. He gets Melvin
Mora to ground out to lead things off before striking out the next two
batters, and the Sox are quickly out of the seventh inning. It's the
first 1-2-3 inning for either team tonight.
End 6th, 4-4: Jason Berken runs out of gas in the bottom of the sixth, and Dave Trembley opts to have Alberto Castillo and Matt Albers team
up to finish the inning. Castillo enters with one out and a man on
second; he induces a groundout from Jacoby Ellsbury, but then Albers
gives up an infield single to Dustin Pedroia that allows pinch-runner Joey Gathright to come in with the tying run. The O's bullpen fails to hold the lead.
Middle 6th, 4-3 O's: Paul Byrd is done, and Terry Francona turns to Manny Delcarmen to keep the Sox' lead intact. That doesn't work. Delcarmen loads the bases and then walks Brian Roberts on four pitches; that plates the tying run, and Tito decides he's seen enough. Ramon Ramirez
comes in hoping to put out the fire, but he allows a first-pitch single
to Felix Pie, and the Orioles now have their first lead of this series.
Props to Ram-Ram for striking out the next two batters and ending the
Oriole rally, but the damage has been done.
End 5th, 3-2 Sox: Kevin Youkilis walks with one out, his second
free pass of the game, and Papi then walks as well, giving Berken a
season-high four tonight. But after Berken strikes out Bay, the defense
bails him out in a big way — Mike Lowell ones one to left for an
apparent RBI single, but Matt Wieters makes a perfect blocking
play at home plate to put away Youkilis and end the inning. We're
moving on to the sixth, and the Sox' lead is still just one.
Middle 5th, 3-2 Sox: The O's manufacture a run in the fifth on
the speed of Brian Roberts — after Roberts leads off the inning with a
double to left, he steals third and takes home on a sac fly by Nolan
Reimold. Byrd continues to live dangerously — he's yet to throw a
single 1-2-3 inning. Baltimore is back to within a run.
End 4th, 3-1 Sox: The Sox tack on another run in the fourth. Mike Lowell reaches on an error, and after a steal of second base, Jason Varitek doubles to left-center to score Lowell. Alex Gonzalez
then comes up and sacrifices 'Tek over to third base with the first
out, but Berken gets the next two guys out and steers out of any
further trouble. The Sox get just the one run in inning number four.
Middle 4th, 2-1 Sox: Byrd keeps on treading water. Luke Scott
goes deep to right for a one-out double to once again mount a threat
for the Orioles, but Byrd stays out of trouble once again. A Wigginton
groundout moves Scott to third, but another groundout from Cesar
Izturis bails the Sox out. Back-to-back goose eggs now for Byrd.
End 3rd, 2-1 Sox: It's another scoreless inning for Jason Berken
— Drew leads off with a single and takes second on a Youkilis
groundout, but Berken holds down the fort from there. Big Papi flies
out to center, and Jason Bay then goes down swinging, stranding Drew at
second base. Moving on to the fourth.
Middle 3rd, 2-1 Sox: Byrd finally starts to stabilize things in the third inning. Felix Pie
grounds out and Reimold flies out to start the inning, and after a
Markakis walk, Byrd whiffs Mora for his first strikeout and his
cleanest inning to date. The Sox cling to that one-run lead.
End 2nd, 2-1 Sox: Ellsbury reaches base for the second time in
as many innings, but the Red Sox come up empty this time. After an
Ellsbury single, Dustin Pedroia hits one down the line in left,
and when Pedroia bolts for second gunning for a double, Ellsbury heads
home trying to score. He's out by a mile, and the mini-two-out rally
comes to an end.
Middle 2nd, 2-1 Sox: Byrd quickly loads the bases with Orioles, walking two guys and then letting Ty Wigginton single to right, and he can't work out of the jam this time. He gets a double-play ball off the bat of Cesar Izturis, but the O's plate a run in the process, and Byrd's two-run cushion is cut in half. A Brian Roberts flyout to center ends the inning.
End 1st, 2-0 Sox: Jacoby Ellsbury leads things off with a five-pitch walk, and his game-changing speed helps put the Sox on the board. First he takes second on a J.D. Drew groundout; then, after a Kevin Youkilis walk, he beats Melvin Mora in a footrace to the third-base bag on a hard-hit grounder by David Ortiz. That brings up Jason Bay, who comes up with a big two-out base hit to plate a pair of runs. Make it an even 100 batted in on the season by Bay.
Middle 1st, 0-0: We're underway. So far, we've seen more of the bad Paul Byrd on the mound than the good one — Nolan Reimold hits one hard down the third-base line and reaches on an infield single, and Nick Markakis goes deep to center field for a long double to put a second man aboard. But no harm, no foul — Byrd gets Melvin Mora to fly out to center field, and the Red Sox are out of trouble.
11:30 a.m.: All good things must come to an end.
Wednesday night, the Baltimore Orioles visit Fenway Park for the last
time this season. The Red Sox have been dominant at home and dominant
against Baltimore this season — when they get both in one sitting,
it's a special occasion. Looking to sweep the brief two-game series,
the Red Sox take the field Wednesday with good reason to be confident.
On the mound for Boston will be Paul Byrd. The Red Sox' righty has been hit-or-miss so far this season — his first start against Toronto was a dream, but his second against the White Sox was a nightmare. What will the third start bring? Wait and see.
Byrd's opponent, O's rookie Jason Berken, has a difficult task ahead of him: He'll try to contain a Red Sox offense that's been absolutely explosive at Fenway Park. The odds are against him, but he's got a shot. That's why they play the games.