Though they are still a major-league worst 24-54 on the season, the Orioles are coming off a 5-4 homestand that featured a season-high four-game win streak. They had won five of six heading into Thursday's rubber match with Oakland, but the Athletics battered O's starter Jake Arrieta for four runs -- three earned -- over six innings in an 8-1 Oakland victory.
"I just have to learn to trust my stuff a little bit more, stop being so picky around the zone and trust that it's good enough to get these guys out," said Arrieta after allowing seven hits and four walks.
Baltimore played minus designated hitter Luke Scott, who was placed on the disabled list after he suffered a left hamstring strain running the bases during his go-ahead homer in Wednesday's contest.
Nick Markakis drove in Baltimore's only run, while Corey Patterson had a pair of hits and scored to stretch his hitting streak to six games. He is batting .500 (12-for-24) during that stretch, but is just 1-for-12 against tonight's starter for Boston, Tim Wakefield.
Wakefield will try to extend Boston's home dominance of the Orioles as the Red Sox took two of three from them in late April and are 23-7 against Baltimore at Fenway Park since the start of the 2007 season.
The right-handed Wakefield, though, is 0-2 over his last three starts with a 4.35 earned run average and is coming off Friday's loss to the Giants. Wakefield gave up four runs -- three earned -- on 11 hits over seven innings to fall to 2-6 on the season with a 5.21 ERA. He is also 0-4 with a 6.51 ERA in nine games at home and hasn't won there since July 8, but will surpass Roger Clemens tonight for the most starts at Fenway Park with 201.
The 43-year-old started against Baltimore on April 25 and got a no-decision despite 6 2/3 innings of two-run ball, but was later drilled for five runs on five hits and three homers over just 2 1/3 innings of relief versus the Orioles on May 1.
Markakis, Scott and Ty Wigginton have all homered off the knuckleballer this season.
Wakefield might be throwing to Kevin Cash this evening after the catcher was acquired from Houston on Thursday for infielder Angel Sanchez. Cash played with Boston from 2007-08, so he has experience handling Wakefield.
Boston went out and got Cash due to injuries to starting catchers Victor Martinez (thumb) and Jason Varitek (foot). Second baseman Dustin Pedroia is also sidelined because of a left foot injury, while the Red Sox have played a majority of this season without outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (rib) and starter Josh Beckett (back).
Still, Boston is just 1 1/2 games back of first-place New York in the American League East.
"We've (recovered from injuries) before," said Ortiz, who doubled twice and had three RBI in Wednesday's 9-4 loss to Tampa Bay that ended Boston's three- game win streak. "This is a long season and anything can happen. We have guys in this clubhouse that can play the game. We play 162 games, and we are at 78, 79. It's on, baby."
Oritz has picked up the slack for the Red Sox as of late, as he has seven RBI in his last three games and is hitting .333 (17-for-51) over his last 16 games with five homers and 18 RBI.
He is 3-for-8 with a homer against Baltimore's Brad Bergesen, who seeks his first win since May 12 tonight.
The 24-year-old is 0-2 with a 7.94 ERA over his last seven appearances, including five starts and returned from a stint in with Triple-A Norfolk to yield five runs over four innings of a no-decision versus Washington on Saturday.
Bergesen is 3-4 with a 6.83 ERA this season, but that does include a win over Boston on May 1 despite giving up four runs over five innings. The righty is 1-1 with a 3.79 ERA in three career meetings versus the Red Sox, but is just 1-2 with an 8.64 ERA in four 2010 road starts.