Final, Orioles 4-2: That’s all, folks. The Orioles keep rolling and win their fifth straight while the Red Sox drop their third in a row. Matt Wieters is the star of the game with three RBIs, Miguel Gonzalez gets his seventh win, and Jon Lester takes his 13th loss — the first of his career against the O’s in 21 starts.
Baltimore improves to 6-1 at Fenway Park this season (9-4 against the Red Sox overall) and remains one game back in the AL East after Russell Martin hit a walk-off home run in the Bronx to give the Yankees a 2-1 win over the A’s.
The Orioles and Red Sox play again Saturday at Fenway. Aaron Cook gets the call for Boston. Randy Wolf will start for Baltimore. First pitch is at 1:10 p.m. ET.
Thanks for joining us. Get some rest. See you in a few hours.
10:10 p.m.: The Red Sox have some action in the bullpen. Just in case, Clayton Mortensen begins to get loose.
Mortensen won’t be needed. Gomez strikes out to end the game. Johnson picks up his 46th save.
10:07 p.m.: Mauro Gomez pinch-hits for Iglesisas after Daniel Nava rips a two-out single. Red Sox still have a chance.
10:03 p.m.: Last licks for Red Sox against Jim Johnson. Getting past the 6-foot-5, 230-pound right-hander won’t be easy. Johnson leads the majors with 45 saves.
Mid 9th, Orioles 4-2: Melancon retires the side after hitting Andino. The reliever has good stuff sometimes. This outing is one of those times.
9:59 p.m.: A’s, Yankees head to 10th inning tied at one.
9:55 p.m.: Andino gets hit in the helmet with a mid-90s fastball from Melancon. Andino leaves the game. Warning are issued to both sides.
Who knows if there was intent with the pitch, but any bad blood between Boston and Baltimore just got a little worse. If Orioles pitchers hit a Red Sox batter the rest of the series, don’t be surprised to see some extracurricular activities.
9:50 p.m.: The A’s and Yankees are tied at one heading to the bottom of the ninth. The Rays are up 12-1 on the Blue Jays. Tampa Bay can thank Boston for jump-starting its offense.
End 8th, Orioles 4-2: The Red Sox go down in order. They must have late dinner reservations.
O’Day is making pitching look easy. It isn’t.
Mid 8th, Orioles 4-2: Atchison does what he usually does — provide solid relief. The veteran right-hander allows an infield single to Reynolds and nothing else for Orioles
9:33 p.m.: Atchison takes over for Lester in the eighth.
Final line: 7 IP, 4 R, 4 ER, 8 H, 3 K, 3 BB, 112 pitches, 79 strikes. More bad than good. Kind of like Lester’s season.
The left-hander will have to wait to get his 10th win. Lester has won at least 10 games in the last four seasons — 15 in 2011, 19 in 2010, 15 in 2009 and 16 in 2008. He has been stuck on nine wins since Sept. 4 and likely will get two more starts to reach double-digit wins this season.
End 7th, Orioles 4-2: O’Day retires the two batters he faces.
Red Sox will need to rally to avoid their 83rd loss of the season.
Final line for Gonzalez: 6.1 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 3 K, 1 BB, 101 pitches, 72 strikes.
9:26 p.m. Call to the bullpen. Darren O’Day replaces Gonzalez. The right-hander exits after giving up a one-out single to Iglesias.
O’Day throws a frisbee slider. Looks like he’s throwing a wiffleball in the backyard.
Mid 7th, Orioles 4-2: Lester returns to the mound. After giving up an Andino single, Lester delivers a strong frame and retires the Orioles in order.
End 6th, Orioles 4-2: If the object of baseball was to see how fast batters could make outs and get back on the field to play defense, the Red Sox would be peerless. The bottom half of the sixth lasts 57 seconds. Give or take.
Gonzalez is dealing. Through six, he’s allowed two runs on six hits and a walk with three strikeouts. On a side note, Gonzalez was released by the Red Sox on Dec. 10, 2011.
Mid 6th, Orioles 4-2: Lester may have thrown his last inning of the night. Through six innings, he’s at 93 pitches, 59 strikes. He’s allowed four runs, all earned, on seven hits, two strikeouts and three walks.
8:57 p.m.: Make that 4-2 Orioles. Reynolds singles home Wieters.
Scott Atchison is warming up in the bullpen.
8:54 p.m.: What do you know? The Orioles give up a run and come right back in the next half inning to score a run and take a 3-2 lead. Adam Jones walks. Wieters drives him in with a double for his second RBI of the game.
8:51 p.m.: We know Twitter would like to see Tom Brady join the social networking site, but which Boston athlete would you like to see sharing their thoughts in 140 characters or fewer?
End 5th, 2-2: We have a ballgame.
8:45 p.m.: Dustin Pedroia ties the game at two with an RBI single. Ciriaco scores. Ciriaco is one of those players who seems to be in the middle of everything. Kind of like Ronnie Lott on the football field back in the day.
8:43 p.m.: In other games with AL playoff implications, the Yankees lead the A’s 1-0 in the bottom of the sixth. The Rays lead the Blue Jays 8-0 in the top of the fifth.
Oakland lost another starting pitcher this week. Brett Anderson went down with an oblique strain and is out for the rest of the regular season. The A’s already have lost Brandon McCarthy (fractured skull) and Bartolo Colon (suspension). Not good.
Mid 5th, Orioles 2-1: Orioles go quietly. After a one-out Andino single, the Red Sox turn their third double play of game.
The more Iglesias plays, the more confidence he gains, the more he looks like he could be the Red Sox’ shortstop for 10-15 years. His defense already is close to Gold Glove-caliber. His hitting needs to get much better. But if he could become a .250 hitter, could Iglesias be the next Omar Vizquel?
Vizquel is a career .272 hitter and probable future Hall of Famer. Iglesias has a long way to go before he’s in the same zip code as Vizquel, but the 22-year-old Cuban has shown glimpses of that kind of talent.
Why get greedy? Even half of Vizquel’s 24-year career would be nice.
End 4th, Orioles 2-1: That inning is why the Red Sox will finish this season with their first losing record since 1997. They fall behind and are unable to answer. No hits, one walk, back to the field.
Mid 4th, Orioles 2-1: That inning exemplifies why the Orioles have their first winning season since 1997. They fall behind and rally right back. The old Orioles would have folded faster than a cheap card table. Now, they battle like William Wallace.
Jose Igelias makes another nice play at short to turn a double play and end the inning.
8:11 p.m.: The Red Sox lead is short-lived. J.J. Hardy opens the top of the fourth with a single. Adam Jones doubles to left-center, Hardy moves to third, and Matt Wieters drives both of them home with a single to right. Orioles 2, Red Sox 1.
End 3rd, Red Sox 1-0: Once again, Ciriaco delivers and gives Boston its first run.
Vote for Pedro for Red Sox MVP. David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz are easy, predictable and obvious choices. But they’ve won plenty of awards. Ciriaco is worthy.
So he can’t play the outfield? He’s been the team’s most exciting, clutch, (insert superlative) Red Sox player on a daily basis since his first day of work July 7.
He should be recognized for his effort.
8 p.m.: The Red Sox take a 1-0 lead. Pedro Ciriaco hits a double to drive home Daniel Nava, who also hit a double. Nava’s hit looked like it could have been a triple, but a fan interfered with the ball.
7:59 p.m.: Jose Iglesias hit his first career home run on Thursday, but he still needs to work on his bunting.
Mid 3rd, 0-0: A walk to Robert Andino almost comes back to bite Lester. Cody Ross makes a nice catch in right against the wall on a deep fly by McLouth. Ross then doubles Andino off first with a strike to james Loney. Still scoreless.
7:51 p.m.: What does Twitter have in common with millions of women? They all want Tom Brady.
At the 2012 Online News Association’s annual conference on Friday, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo was asked who he would most like to see join his social networking service. His answer? Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
End 2nd, 0-0: Gonzalez retires Red Sox in order. If the Orioles’ right-hander and Lester keep dealing the way they have in the first two frames, a pitcher’ duel could be in store.
Mid 2nd, 0-0: Three up, three down for Orioles. Lester strikes out Mark Reynolds on four pitches and gets the final two out on three pitches.
7:32 p.m.: Think Dan Duquette would like to beat the Red Sox this weekend? After being run out of Boston in 2002, Duquette has been vindicated in his first year as Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations.
The former Red Sox GM (from 1994 through the 2001 season) never got the credit he deserved for the Red Sox’ 2004 World Series title. Duquette played a major role in helping construct that championship team. He acquired Manny Ramirez via free agency and Pedro Martinez via trade — two of the best moves in Red Sox history.
Good to see Duquette has gotten a second chance in the majors. Anyone who still doubts Duquette’s baseball acumen should check their head or take look at the AL East standings.
End 1st, 0-0: No runs for the Red Sox. Podsednik continues his hot hitting against the Orioles with a single, but Miguel Gonzalez shuts down Boston’s other hitters.
Mid 1st, 0-0: Jon Lester looks sharp. Aside from an Adam Jones single, no Orioles hitter puts good wood on the ball. Lester throws 16 pitches, 12 strikes. He strikes out Nate McLouth and induces two grounders to short from J.J. Hardy and Matt Wieters.
7:16 p.m.: A lot of Orioles fans are at Fenway Park. If Camden Yards is Fenway South, could Fenway ever become Camden North? O’s are 5-1 in Boston this season.
7:11 p.m.: First pitch is a strike. As Kramer would say, giddy up.
7:09 p.m.: Red Sox take the field wearing their red jerseys.
6:57 p.m.: Jacoby Ellsbury is hurting a little bit. Could be a leg or shoulder. Bobby Valentine didn’t specify before the game.
“He has a little situation that we’re making sure is nothing more than a little situation,” Valentine said. “He really shouldn’t have played [Thursday]. He’s just got a little — I’m not even sure how to define it, so I’m not going to to try.”
Ellsbury, who dealt with a leg situation in mid-August, is hitting .309 (21-for-68) with two home runs and 10 RBIs in September. In his last seven days, he is even hotter, hitting .385 (10-for-26) with six RBIs.
5:23 p.m.: Robert Andino returns to Fenway. Don’t expect a standing ovation.
The Orioles’ second baseman hammered the final nail into the 2011 Red Sox’ coffin to join Bucky Dent, David Tyree, Scott Walker and other illustrious names in the New England F— Y– Hall of Fame.
Red Sox fans will be happy to know that the baseball gods, while smiling on the Orioles this season, have given Andino the middle finger. He is hitting .209 (77-for-369) with seven home runs and 26 RBIs in an injury-shortened season. His recent work at the plate is even less impressive: .074 batting average (two hits in his last 27 at-bats) in his last seven games.
With the Red Sox’ luck this season, though, Andino probably will go 3-for-4 in every game this weekend, drive in 10 runs and have a 1.600 OPS.
5:02 p.m.: Melky Cabrera wants to be disqualified from the NL batting title race. Ben Johnson has no comment.
4:36 p.m.: The Pedro Ciriaco center-field experiment didn’t work in the series finale in Tampa Bay, so Ciriaco returns to the infield against the Orioles at third base. Ciriaco misplayed a pair of fly balls into doubles against the Rays in his first career start in center. Jacoby Ellsbury was supposed to have the night off but replaced Ciriaco in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Scott Podsednik starts in center against the O’s and is a good choice. Podsednik is hitting .500 against the Birds this season with seven hits in 14 at-bats. One of those hits, on May 23 at Camden Yards, was the 36-year-old’s lone home run of the season.
4:21 p.m.: Here are the lineups.
Pedro Ciriaco, 3B
Scott Podsednik, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Cody Ross, RF
Ryan Lavarnway, C
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, DH
James Loney, 1B
Daniel Nava, LF
Jose Iglesias, SS
Jon Lester, LHP
Nate McLouth, LF
J.J. Hardy, SS
Adam Jones, CF
Matt Wieters, C
Mark Reynolds, 1B
Lew Ford, DH
Manny Machado, 3B
Endy Chavez, RF
Robert Andino, 2B
Miguel Gonzalez, RHP
3:35 p.m.: Harrison Ford plays Branch Rickey in an upcoming biopic about Jackie Robinson called 42. Check out the trailer.
Ford is due for another classic. It’s been a while.
Here’s a top 10 list of Ford movies.
Honorable mention: Working Girl
9. The Mosquito Coast
8. Patriot Games
7. Return of the Jedi
6. Clear and Present Danger
5. The Empire Strikes Back
4. Blade Runner
2. Star Wars
1. Raiders of the Lost Ark
Apocalypse Now doesn’t make the cut because Ford only had a small role, but his “terminate with extreme prejudice” scene is as good as moviemaking gets.
Do you agree with the list? Leave comments below or on Twitter @erictortiz.
3:30 p.m.: Want to be strong like Rob Gronkowski? Eat Gronk Flakes. No word yet whether Red Sox will be adding the cereal to their training menu.
2:55 p.m.: Major League Baseball ran a stunt on its Twitter account, @MLB, this week. According to Maria Burns Ortiz on ESPN.com, a few days ago, @MLB began posting tweets with #MLBMembersOnly as the hashtag and cryptic messages like “follow @MLB … while you still can.”
On Thursday, @MLB made the account private and promoted prize giveaways. All of @MLB’s 2.4 million followers could view the exclusive tweets. New followers had to be approved by @MLB. The account gained about 10,000 new followers, and one lucky fan won World Series tickets. Others won merchandise.
Actual Members Only jackets were not part of the freebies.
Maybe next time.
10:58 a.m.: Alfred Hitchcock would be proud of the job Dan Duquette has done transforming the Orioles into beasts. The Yankees better beware. The Birds are coming, and they smell blood. The last time the Orioles won the AL East was 1997. With 13 games to play, Baltimore trails New York by one game in the division. If the pinstripes aren’t careful, the Birds will catch them.
8 a.m. ET: Is it over yet?
That’s how much of New England feels about the 2012 Red Sox season. But not the Red Sox.
After taking two of three in Toronto last weekend, Boston split a four-game series with the Rays and came within two outs of winning three of four in Tampa Bay.
Now, the Red Sox (69-82) return to Fenway Park for a three-game series with the Orioles (85-64) and two-game set with the Rays. The five-game stretch is Boston’s last homestand of the season, and the Red Sox are motivated to serve up some revenge and keep both teams from making the postseason. Baltimore put the cherry to top of Boston’s epic collapse last season, and Tampa Bay prevented the Red Sox from advancing to the 2008 World Series.
Turnabout is fair play.
Jon Lester (9-12, 4.95 ERA) gets the call for the Red Sox in the opener against the Orioles. The left-hander is 1-1 with a 4.42 ERA over his past three starts, but has never lost to the Orioles, going 14-0 with a 2.49 ERA in 20 career starts.
Lester will be opposed by Miguel Gonzalez (6-4, 3.57), who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles in March and has been a very pleasant surprise. The 28-year-old rookie right-hander and former Red Sox farmhand picked up his first major league win July 6 (against the Angels) in his first career start and has delivered seven quality starts in 12 starts this season. On Aug. 15 at Camden Yards, Gonzalez notched his first career win against the Red Sox, allowing two runs (both earned) on six hits over six innings. In his last start, Sept. 12 against the Rays, he gave up two runs (both earned) on six hits for a no-decision.
Can Gonzalez lead the Birds to their fifth straight win, or will Lester help the Red Sox snap their two-game losing skid?
Find out Friday night. Pregame coverage begins on NESN at 5:30 p.m. ET. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. Follow all of the game action on TV with Don and Jerry, and join us on the live blog.
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