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The Boston Red Sox escaped disaster on Tuesday night, topping the Baltimore Orioles 8-7 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore. Boston remains tied with Tampa Bay atop the American League Wild Card standing with just one game remaining. The lineup produced a quartet of home runs while Alfredo Aceves earned his 10th victory of the year.
In his first career start behind the dish, Ryan Lavarnway carried the Red Sox offense, smacking a pair of home runs and four RBI in a 2-4 performance. Lavarnway blasted a Zach Britton offering for a two-run home run in the fourth before hitting his second of the night, a solo shot in the eighth off Zach Phillips.
The Red Sox received production up-and-down the lineup. Jacoby Ellsbury (1-5, HR, 2 RBI, run) belted his 32nd homer of the year with a two-run shot in the the third, while Marco Scutaro (2-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 runs) collected his seventh of the year with a two-run blast in the sixth.
Dustin Pedroia (2-4), David Ortiz (1-4, run), Adrian Gonzalez (1-3, run), Darnell McDonald (1-2) and Carl Crawford (1-4, 3B, run) all reached with a hit in the win.
Despite solid offensive production, the Red Sox staff’s recent struggles remain a cause for concern as the regular season conclude. Eric Bedard tossed just 3-1/3 frames, allowing three runs (all earned) on five hits and three walks while striking out six for the no decision.
Aceves earned the win after 3-2/3 innings of one-run ball. Aceves allowed three hits and issued no walks with one strike out. Daniel Bard had a rough eighth inning, allowing a pair of runs on three hits before Jonathan Papelbon collected his 31st save of the year. Papelbon allowed a run and had the tying run at second, but induced a harmless 5-3 groundout to end the contest.
Baltimore jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first, starting a two-out rally with a Nick Markakis walk. Cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero took advantage, roping the Bedard pitch to deep center to plate Markakis for the first run of the game.
The game remained 1-0 until the third when the Red Sox struck twice to gain a 2-1 edge. Scutaro extended the inning with a two-out double to deep left, and scored when Ellsbury homered to center to give Boston the lead.
The Red Sox added to their advantage in the fourth, scoring three times to lead 5-1. Ortiz led off with a single and advanced to third with one-out on a Gonzalez single. Lavarnway stepped in and smashed his first career home run, a three-run shot.
Baltimore wasted no time in trimming Boston’s lead in the bottom half. Guerrero singled to lead off and was plated instantly when Matt Wieters homered to center to bring the score to 5-3.
The squads traded home runs in the sixth, with Scutaro and Adam Jones both going yard for their respective clubs. Crawford reached base with a two-out triple to bring Scutaro to the plate, who gave Boston a 7-3 lead with a long ball to left. In the bottom half, Jones made it 7-4 with a one-out solo shot.
Lavarnway added to the Boston advantage in the eighth with his second home run of the night to give the team an 8-4 lead.
Bard entered the eighth blessed with a 8-4 lead, but surrendered two runs to allow Baltimore back into the game. Wieters singled to lead off and advanced to second with a routine Jones ground out. Following a Mark Reynolds strike out, Chris Davis singled home Wieters to bring the O’s within three. Batting next, Nolan Reimold tripled to right, scoring Davis to bring the score to 8-6. Bard escaped the inning by retiring Robert Andino with a fly out to left.
In the ninth, Papelbon allowed a pair of singles and a run, but escaped with a 8-7 win. JJ Hardy singled to start things off and reached third with one-out on a Guerrero single. Wieters plated Hardy with a ground out to Lavarnway for the second out, but Papelbon retired Jones 5-3 to end the game.
Boston returns to action tomorrow to battle Baltimore in the rubber match of this three-game set. Jon Lester (15-09 3.49 ERA) will try to advance the Red Sox to the post season on just three days rest, opposed by Orioles starter Alfredo Simon (4-9, 4.85 ERA) at 7:05 p.m.
In Tampa, David Price (12-13, 3.35 ERA) toes the rubber for the Rays at 7:00 p.m. The Yankees have not announced their starter.