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The Red Sox are no longer in the basement of the American League East. Well, at least they’re not in the basement alone. The 8-6 win over the first place Baltimore Orioles combined with the New York Yankees loss tied the rivals with even 21-21 records for fourth place in the division. The win was led by a late offensive surge and solid relief pitching, making up for the early struggles of Clay Buchholz.
Mike Aviles had been hot, homering in his last three games and he got things started with an RBI single to center in the third inning. He finished the game with two hits and continues to find success in the leadoff spot. Dustin Pedroia added a sacrifice fly to give Boston an early 2-0 lead against Tommy Hunter.
However, Buchholz gave the lead right back in the bottom half of the inning. He was wild and looked lost on the mound, allowing a base hit and walk to the seventh and eighth hitters in the Orioles lineup. Then, as number nine batter Robert Andino attempted to bunt, Buchholz struggled with his command, eventually allowing a bunt single after missing with the first three fastballs of the at bat.
With the bases loaded and no one out, he walked Xavier Avery, scoring the first Baltimore run. Then, J.J. Hardy laced a base hit up towards the middle of the infield, where a ranging Aviles at shortstop couldn’t get the ball out of his glove or an out as he attempted to get the force at second before throwing to first too late. With the bases reloaded and the game tied, Buchholz walked Nick Markakis, his third free pass surrendered in the inning as the Orioles took a sudden 3-2 lead.
The momentum of the game seemed to change in a sense when Adam Jones, arguably the most dangerous hitter in the Orioles lineup, bounced into a 6-4-3 double play. While a run scored, Buchholz went on to get the third out of the inning and limit the damage so Baltimore had just a 4-2 advantage, a potentially simple task for the Sox offense to overcome.
After a Chris Davis solo home run gave the Orioles a 5-2 lead, the Sox went to work in the sixth against Hunter. David Ortiz only had one hit on the night, but it was a home run blasted deep to right field. Adrian Gonzalez followed it up with a double, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly to cut the lead down to 5-4. With Will Middlebrooks on third base, Hunter was called for a balk, tying the game before the pitcher got out of the inning.
The game remained tied until Gonzalez hit a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in the seventh to put Boston on top 6-5. They added two insurance runs when Middlebrooks drove home Pedroia in the inning and Pedroia smacked an RBI single the following inning. Middlebrooks had been slumping lately, but he collected three hits and raised his average up to .297 on the year.
The bullpen was effective in maintaining the 8-5 lead, as Andrew Miller earned the victory pitching 1.2 innings of scoreless work, striking out two batters. Rich Hill was roughed up, but only allowed one run as Vicente Padilla worked out of a jam in the bottom of the eighth.
Alfredo Aceves closed out the win, earning his 10th save of the season. The Red Sox have now won nine of their last 11 games and are one of the hottest teams in all of baseball. Unfortunately, all was not perfect on Monday night, as Buchholz did struggle mightily as he has done nearly all season long. He pitched 5.1 innings, allowing 5 ER, and walked four batters while only striking out two. His ERA for the season stands at 7.84, and he remains one of the key areas of concern going forward.
Additionally the Sox received bad news with regards to the injury to Cody Ross, learning that the outfielder has a broken bone in his foot. He becomes the sixth Sox outfielder to go to the disabled list this season.
Tuesday night, the teams will square off again as the Sox send Felix Doubront to the mound, who has been one of the most consistent pitchers for the team all year. Baltimore counters with southpaw Brian Matusz, who has won three of his last four starts.
Tags: Adam Jones, Adrian Gonzalez, Andrew Miller, Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Chris Davis, Clay Buchholz, David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, J.J. Hardy, Mike Aviles, Nick Markakis, Rich Hill, Robert Andino, Tommy Hunter, Vicente Padilla, Will Middlebrooks, Xavier Avery