It took 13 innings, but the Sox dropped their third straight game Friday night, falling 6-4 to the Orioles.
The Red Sox would strike first, scoring a run off of Wei-Yin Chen in the second when Cody Ross led off the inning with a triple. They made a bit of a show of it, however. After Darnell McDonald walked, Marlon Byrd flew out to Nick Markakis, prompting Ross to bluff but not head home. A strikeout from Kelly Shoppach left the Sox looking like they'd need a hit to get the job done, but in the end it was a passed ball by Ronny Paulino that let the run come in to score.
Jon Lester started the game strong, but quickly showed signs of weakness in the second inning as he left a fastball over the plate to Mark Reynolds for a solo shot that tied the game.
The Sox would jump back on top in the third, turning a pair of leadoff baserunners in Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia into runs on a pair of productive outs. Just as quick, however, Lester would give the runs right back in the top of the fourth, surrendering a leadoff walk and then watching Matt Wieters place a flair to right perfectly on the line and past Cody Ross for a triple. He would score on a Wilson Betemit single.
Will Middlebrooks and Dustin Pedroia combined for a fourth run in the fifth, putting Boston back on top for a third time, but Adrian Gonzalez helped the Orioles to grab a run off Vicente Padilla, foolishly throwing to third to try and catch Mark Reynolds rather than taking the easy out at first. Reynolds would score on what would have been an inning-ending double play after a walk loaded the bases.
With neither side scoring in the next few innings, the game headed to extra innings. Alfredo Aceves was outstanding for the Sox, striking out the side in each of the tenth and eleventh innings and adding another pair of outs in the twelfth. Franklin Morales would come on to finish the frame, but then fell apart in the thirteenth, surrendering two singles and a walk to bring a run home for the Orioles. Scott Atchison would allow a second to come in on a sacrifice fly, leaving the Sox down 6-4. With Jim Johnson throwing a 1-2-3 thirteenth, the Sox fell again.
Adrian Gonzalez Finds His Bat: His defensive blunder may have cost the Red Sox the game, but Adrian at least showed up with the bat, picking up three singles--two of them well-hit--to break an extended slump that saw him cost the Red Sox in big offensive situation recently.
Jon Lester Struggles: It wasn't a particularly pretty night for Jon Lester, who just could not get the ball into the strike zone trying to stay away from right-handed hitters. While Sox fans might have hoped that Lester was back after his strong start in Chicago, right now it's looking like it's April 34 rather than May 4.
A Bullpen Game: Sadly, even on a night when the bullpen was decent, the Sox fall to a surprising performance from the Orioles'. One year ago it would have been unthinkable to see the Orioles find eight scoreless innings from the pen, but tonight that was the reality. Still, the Red Sox received some exceptional stuff from Alfredo Aceves, and Matt Albers has two more scoreless innings to his name, so at least the signs of improvement continue.