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On a night when the Boston Celtics defeated the Atlanta Hawks in overtime, the Boston Red Sox were playing a bit of extra baseball in what ended up being their third consecutive loss.
The division rival Baltimore Orioles (16-9) were in town, looking to improve upon a strong start to their season. The ninth inning ended with the score tied 4-4, as it remained until first baseman Chris Davis singled home catcher Matt Wieters, giving the Orioles a lead that they would hold on to as the Sox ended up losing 6-4.
One of the biggest differences this year for Baltimore has been the pitching, led by Wei-Yin Chen, who was scheduled to face the Red Sox for the first time. Chen was signed by the Orioles after years of stellar success pitching in Nippon Professional Baseball. He was opposed by Jon Lester, who was coming off of his best outing of the year against the Chicago White Sox.
All-or-nothing Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds homered off of Lester over the Green Monster to tie the game 1-1 after the Sox scored on a passed ball earlier. Reynolds entered the game hitless in his last 13 at-bats but broke out, going 2-4 with the home run and a double.
The Sox regained the lead after an RBI groundout by David Ortiz. After hitting nearly everything in sight lately, Ortiz came back down to Earth, going 0-5 with a walk. The Sox added another run with a sacrifice fly by Cody Ross, but the early 3-1 lead was again surrendered by Lester.
In the top of the fourth, following a leadoff walk, Wieters connected on a base hit down the right field line, which got past Ross, allowing a run to score and Wieters to end up on third base, eventually scoring himself to tie the game again 3-3.
Manager Bobby Valentine batted youngster Will Middlebrooks second following an impressive big league debut. This time around, he was just 1-6, but the one was a big double to lead off the bottom of the fifth. He advanced to third on a sacrifice fly by Adrian Gonzalez and scored on a RBI base hit by Dustin Pedroia. Gonzalez had three hits after slumping throughout the majority of the season to this point.
The Sox held the 4-3 lead until the top of the seventh when the Sox needed to go to their unpredictable bullpen. First up was Vincente Padilla, who had been a slightly brighter aspect of the pen to this point. Padilla allowed a leadoff double, and two more runners, loading the bases with no one out. He induced a double play, which tied the game 4-4, as it remained until the 13th.
The Orioles relievers were brilliant after Chen departed at the end of the fifth. Their five pitchers tossed eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and two walks as the Sox bats went cold. On the other side, the Boston relievers were solid, especially Alfredo Aceves, who pitched 2.2 innings, striking out six. Franklin Morales was handed the loss after allowing the go-ahead base hit by Davis.
On Saturday the Red Sox will try again, with Aaron Cook starting his first game in a Boston uniform. The righty was signed in the offseason to add potential rotation depth, and he looks to begin to contribute on Cinco de Mayo. With AAA Pawtucket this season Cook was very good, recording a 3-0 record with a 1.89 ERA.
He had spent his entire time in the big leagues with the Colorado Rockies, holding a career 72-68 record and 4.53 ERA. He’ll be opposed by Jason Hammel, who is 3-1 with a 1.97 ERA for Baltimore.