The Red Sox avoided the sweep Thursday, knocking off the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 thanks to some big production from Jacoby Ellsbury and Adrian Gonzalez and eight innings of two-run ball from Jon Lester.
Continuing to provide hits from the leadoff position, Jacoby Ellsbury got the Sox going right off the bat in the first inning, ripping the fourth pitch of the game into the outfield for a double. After Dustin Pedroia struck out, Gonzalez followed suit, going to the opposite field for a double of his own, putting the Sox on the board with just one out.
Given a one-run lead by his offense, Jon Lester turned around and gave it right back. Struggling to find a comfort zone on a mound that resulted in no small amount of slipping during his delivery, Lester gave up a few walks, leaving his pitches too far outside. That was the case with leadoff hitter Brian Roberts, who then found himself at second on a Nick Markakis single, at third after a steal, and finally home when Derrek Lee brought him in with a ground ball hit up the middle. A strikeout of Vladmir Guerrero and a double play from Adam Jones kept the Orioles to just the one run.
Adrian Gonzalez would drive in Jacoby Ellsbury once again in the third inning, but the Orioles responded in the sixth with a home run that just barely left the yard off of Guerrero's bat. With Lester holding down the fort and faced with a tie game in the seventh inning, the Red Sox only took the lead thanks to the luckiest of hits. After a failed bunt seemed to leave the Red Sox poised to waste a leadoff double from Carl Crawford, Dustin Pedroia came to the plate with two outs and the Sox' left fielder at third. Pedroia didn't make hard contact by any means, and in fact the ball didn't even make it past the pitcher's mound. But it was perfectly placed, and with Mark Reynolds failing to make what would have needed to be a spectacular play, the Sox took the 3-2 lead.
The runs they scored in the eighth inning, however, were rather more legitimate. With Jim Johnson walking Kevin Youkilis to lead off the inning, the Orioles turned to Mike Gonzalez, who allowed a hit to David Ortiz, walked Mike Cameron, and then gave up a line drive single to Jarrod Saltalamacchia to score the Sox' fourth run. A couple batters later, with two outs, Jacoby Ellsbury blooped his third hit of the night into center field to score two more batters, giving the Sox a four run lead that Jonathan Papelbon easily held on to for the win.