The Red Sox needed big contributions from three unlikely sources Wednesday night to take their first series from the Baltimore Orioles in 10 months with a 6-5 win.
It's amazing to think that it's been so long since the Sox were last able to get the best of the AL East's long-time cellar dwellers (and current leaders), but between the terrible results in last September and the sweep they suffered in Fenway earlier this month, the Sox hadn't taken so much as 2-of-3 from the Orioles since last July.
One of the men who would help to end that streak for Boston was Daniel Bard, who had what is becoming a typical start for him this year. Unimpressive early, Bard would load the bases with one out in the first before escaping with only one run coming in on a sacrifice fly. Nick Johnson would then lead off the next inning with a solo homer off what may have been a flat 91 MPH changeup, or an unusually slow fastball. Given that Bard's velocity seemed diminshed all day, the latter seems more likely, but whether it was a changeup or a fastball, it was flat, up in the zone, just off-center, and incredibly hittable.
Bard would settle down from there, though he did continue to struggle with fastball command. He was helped by his defense, with Mike Aviles snagging a line drive up the middle in the third and turning it into two outs to put out a fire before it even started. The last out of the inning would come with Jarrod Satlalamacchia gunning down Adam Jones at second.
The Red Sox, meanwhile, had evened the score. A Scott Podsednik GIDP with the bases loaded and nobody out turned a promising second inning into just the one run, and Kevin Youkilis was thrown out at home on an RBI double by Will Middlebrooks, but the tying two runs came in all-the-same.
They would end up taking the lead in the sixth thanks to the aforementioned unlikely sources. Daniel Nava was first, pulling a two-run shot to right field to make it 3-2 before Kelly Shoppach went to left for a homer of his own and, with Podsednik on base by way of a single, a 5-2 lead.
The lead would quickly shrink to 5-4 in the bottom half of the sixth when Nick Johnson managed to get around on an inside fastball from Andrew MIller, who had just walked Wilson Betemit to first. The homer brought the Orioles within one swing of the bat, but a Scott Podsednik homer in the eighth would extend the lead back to two runs.
The bottom half of the eighth would provide the tensest moments of the game for the Sox, who saw Vicente Padilla put two men on to lead off his second inning of work. A strikeout of Chris Davis helped his cause, but a bloop off the bat of Wilson Betemit seemed destined for the grass before Che-Hsuan Lin showed his value in the field, swooping in to make the grab and hold the Orioles to just a sacrifice fly. Alfredo Aceves would pick up the last out of the inning before making clean work of it in the ninth to give the Sox the win.
|Final - 5.23.2012||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Boston Red Sox||0||1||1||0||0||3||0||1||0||6||13||0|
|WP: Daniel Bard (4 - 5)
SV: Alfredo Aceves (11)
LP: Jake Arrieta (2 - 5)