Loss to O’s Ends Sox’ East Lead
Baltimore — Now that the Boston Red Sox have lost their grip on first place in the AL East after an enjoyable two-month run, they have two things to worry about: chasing Tampa Bay and fending off the pesky Baltimore Orioles.
Chris Tillman pitched seven innings of two-hit ball, Adam Jones homered twice and the Orioles defeated the Boston 6-0 Friday night to end a three-game skid.
The loss dropped the Red Sox a half-game behind the Rays, who beat the Yankees 10-6. Boston, which has dropped six of nine, had been alone atop the division since May 27.
“It’s not the end of the … world,” right fielder Shane Victorino said.
“We have a lot of talented guys in here,” losing pitcher John Lackey said. “A lot of good track records. We’ll keep fighting.”
The best way for Boston to begin that battle is to find a way to beat the Orioles. The Red Sox are 2-6 against Baltimore, the only team in the division against whom they have a losing record.
With the win, the third-place Orioles closed within three games of Boston.
Tillman (13-3) tied a career high with eight strikeouts in becoming the Orioles’ first 13-game winner since Erik Bedard in 2007.
“For the team, it’s special,” Tillman said. “I think it’s a team achievement, It’s not me. It wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t swinging the bats the way we are; it wouldn’t have happened if we weren’t playing defense the way we are. It goes to show where this team is now opposed to in the past. I think all the pieces are starting to come into place.”
In his past three starts against Boston, the right-hander is 3-0 with a 0.68 ERA.
“He’s going out there and doing it,” Jones said. “That’s what we ask of him. He’s got the talent. He’s got the stuff.”
Jones hit a two-run homer in the first and a solo shot in the fifth to help Baltimore bounce back from three successive losses in Kansas City. It was the third multihomer game of his career.
Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy also homered for the Orioles, who tied a season high with four long balls and increased their major-league leading total to 141.
“That’s our style of play,” Jones said. “Tonight, it worked.”
Three of the homers came against Lackey (7-8), who yielded a season-high tying five runs in 61∕3 innings. The right-hander came in with a 12-4 lifetime record against the Orioles and had allowed two runs or fewer in six of seven starts since June 15.
Jacoby Ellsbury had half of Boston’s four hits. The Red Sox got only one runner past second base in their eighth shutout loss of the year.
Tillman began the game with a wild streak, giving up a single and a pair of two-out walks to load the bases in the first inning before striking out Daniel Nava on three pitches.
In the bottom half, Nick Markakis singled and Jones hit an opposite-field drive to right that barely cleared the 25-foot scoreboard.
Nate McLouth led off the third with a triple off the glove of Ellsbury in center, and Machado followed with a single for a 3-0 lead.
Baltimore missed a chance to add another run when Hardy was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a single by Brian Roberts. Victorino got his seventh assist on the play, high among Boston outfielders.
But Jones hit another opposite-field homer in the fifth, giving him 22 for the season. Machado chased Lackey with a drive to left field in the seventh.
Baltimore’s first home game since the All-Star break drew a crowd of 39,063.
Notes: Baltimore has homered in 11 straight games against Boston. … Ryan Dempster takes the mound for the Red Sox on Saturday night, looking to improve his career 1.73 ERA against the Orioles. Scott Feldman will pitch for Baltimore. … Dressing in the home clubhouse at Camden Yards for the first time, RHP Francisco Rodriguez said of the trade that sent him from Milwaukee last week: “I was surprised, but I got excited because I knew I had a chance to be in the postseason.” … Nava has reached base in a career-high 21 straight games. … Baltimore’s Chris Davis singled in the first inning to snap a 0-for-10 skid, and Ellsbury ended a 0-for-12 drought with a fifth-inning double.