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Red Sox Spring Training 2012: Sox Take One, Split One Against Orioles

The Red Sox will leave from their split squad games against the Orioles Saturday afternoon with one win and one tie, taking their home game 7-4 and matching the O's in their own house 3-3.

Getting the start in Fort Myers, Josh Beckett was in fine form against the Orioles' road lineup. Stretching out to five innings--the longest appearance of any Boston pitcher to date--Beckett did not have the strikeouts rolling in, but made up for it with weak contact, recording nine outs on the ground.

Giving up just a single through three scoreless innings, Beckett finally ran into trouble in the fourth, allowing a leadoff walk to Xavier Avery. Moving to second on another ground out, Avery would score the Orioles' only run off Beckett on a Wilson Betemit single. A double play would end the frame there, however, and Beckett retired the side in order in the fifth to wrap up a strong outing.

The Sox, meanwhile, had just taken the 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third when Dustin Pedroia singled home Lars Anderson. Having seen their advantage disappear, they earned it right back, scoring three runs in the fourth on hits from Cody Ross, Kelly Shoppach, Nick Punto, and again Lars Anderson. They matched that total in the fifth, with Ross this time providing the finishing touch: a three-run shot over the Monster in left field.

With the 7-1 lead in hand, the Sox managed to ride out some late game difficulties from Junichi Tazawa, taking the home game 7-4. They would not prove so successful on the road.

A few steps behind the rest of the rotation candidates due to injury, Aaron Cook was limited to just three innings in his start. Allowing just two baserunners, Cook would hand the ball off to Clay Mortensen with one out in the fourth. Working around a pair of singles, Mortensen would escape the inning unharmed, giving the Sox a chance to take the lead in the top of the fifth, when Nate spears brought home Ryan Lavarnway and, of course, Pedro Ciriaco with a long ball to right.

The Orioles would cut away most of that lead in the sixth inning. While the damage was set up by a double and a single, Mortensen would have been able to escape were it not for some sloppy play. An errant pickoff throw allowed Nick Markakis to score from third, and gave two bases to Adam Jones. Those two bags would make all the difference when Luix Exposito let a ball get by him, allowing Jones to come in for the second run. That Mortensen recorded the last two outs by way of the K makes the errors all the more difficult to swallow.

Still, the Sox were in line to win the game headed to the bottom of the ninth. With two outs, however, Joe Mahoney doubled off of Doug Mathis, and then came around to tie the game on Steve Tolleson's single. With neither side scoring in the tenth, the game ended in a draw.

For more Red Sox Spring Training 2012 coverage, follow our StoryStream. Also visit our team page and blog, Over The Monster, as well as our baseball hub, Baseball Nation.