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In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the Red Sox needed some Fenway magic to help steer the ship.
Behind strong pitching and dazzling defense, the Sox were able to take out the Orioles 3-1. Entering the game with the worst road record in the American League, Baltimore stood at a season-worst twelve games below .500 and was looking to right their ship, but Boston needed to get on the right track themselves.
After a scoreless first, Jason Varitek committed a throwing error on Nolan Reimold stealing second, sending him to third. A Melvin Mora sacrifice fly scored Reimold giving the Orioles the early lead.
J.D. Drew, coming into the game in a 0-21 drought, singled to lead off the fourth. Later in the inning, Varitek, singled, scoring Drew and tying the game with no outs. A Jed Lowrie sac fly scored Mike Lowell, putting the Sox up 2-1.
Starting the fifth in an 0-2 hole, Kevin Youkilis was able to draw a walk, followed by a David Ortiz single. After a Jason Bay fly out, Drew singled in what appeared to be a double play, but raced to first before the throw, scoring Youkilis.
A two out, ground rule double by Jacoby Ellsbury gave the Sox another scoring opportunity in the sixth inning. Dustin Pedroia hit a single into right, but Nick Markakis made a perfect throw and gunned down Ellsbury at home, ending the inning.
Brad Penny got better as the game went on, as he was throwing into the high 90’s into the seventh. He was replaced by Manny Delcarmen and then Hideki Okijima, who both didn’t give up a hit. In fact, no Red Sox pitcher gave up a walk until Jonathan Papelbon in the ninth inning.
The Orioles started the ninth with back-to-back singles from Adam Jones and Markakis off of Papelbon. After an Aubrey Huff flyout, Reimold walked, loading the bases for the O’s. Papelbon then struck out Luke Scott on three pitches. The Fenway Faithful were on their feet as Mora went down swinging on a full count to end the game.
The 3-1 victory ends Boston’s five-game skid and gives them the first win in the series with Baltimore. With a Yankees win, the Red Sox still remain two and a half games behind the Bronx Bombers.
Boston will continue the series with Baltimore Saturday with Jon Lester taking the mound.
Diving plays by Ellsbury and Pedroia, along with Lowell grabbing a foul in the stands, were highlights for a Red Sox defense that snared a few balls that were sure to be hits.
Brad Penny improved to 5-1 this season at Fenway. He threw 108 pitches, 78 for strikes and had four strikeouts with zero walks.
“He (Youkilis) is no longer a surprise. He is known as one of the elite hitters in the game…as he punches out.” – Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports, announcing for NESN. Edes was complementing Youkilis’ hitting during a strikeout.
WP: Brad Penny (7-4)
LP: Brad Bergesen (6-5)
SV: Jonathan Papelbon (25)