BALTIMORE -- Denied the opportunity to complete his first shutout in two years, David Wells settled for a victory in which he extended his run of scoreless innings to 15.
Wells (2-2) struck out five and walked one. He had thrown 109 pitches through eight innings and was eager to get the final three outs, but as the top of the ninth dragged on -- there were three walks and a pitching change -- it became apparent that the burly left-hander would be better served by spending the bottom half in the dugout.
"My heart was wanting to send him out there for the ninth, but my head won out," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. "I don't think it was right for the rest of the season. I was fighting myself. He wanted to, but the ninth inning was getting long. He understood. He was good about it."
Wells was vying for his 13th career shutout, the first in 63 starts since he blanked Minnesota for the New York Yankees in April 2003.
"I could have gone. I wanted to. I just felt good," he said. "But it became a long inning and I stiffened up a little."
After blanking Tampa Bay for seven innings in his previous outing, Wells has rattled off 15 consecutive shutout innings since losing his first two starts with Boston.
"I'm just trying to be the old me, hitting my spots and keeping the offense off stride," he said. "That's a good offense over there."
"We ran into a buzz saw. He can do that to you," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.
"He was in total control," Lopez said. "He was mixing his pitches, going in and out; he kept us off balance the whole time."
Blaine Neal worked the ninth, completing the three-hitter.
Baltimore's Brian Roberts went 0-for-3 with a walk, ending a 14-game hitting streak. It was also the first time in 10 games that the Orioles failed to hit a home run.
"It was good pitch for Varitek to hit, and he took advantage of it," Lopez said.
Ramirez went 2-for-2 with an RBI and two walks. He had five homers in his previous four games.
An RBI single by Ramirez gave Boston a 5-0 lead in the seventh, and the Red Sox added three in the eighth on a run-scoring double by Bill Mueller, an RBI single by Mark Bellhorn and a run-scoring groundout by Johnny Damon.
Both starters were brilliant at the outset. Chen allowed only one walk through the first four innings and Wells faced the minimum 12 batters over the same span, forcing Lopez to hit into a second-inning double play after yielding a single to Sosa.
The Red Sox ended the scoreless duel in the fifth. Varitek beat out a roller to third for Boston's first hit, then took third on a broken-bat single by Jay Payton. After a popup by Mueller and a strikeout by Bellhorn, Damon walked to load the bases before home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called a balk on Chen.
"That totally changed the whole game," Lopez said.
Edgar Renteria grounded out to end the inning, but the Red Sox had a lead that would not be challenged. Baltimore wasted a two-out single by Lopez in the bottom half before Varitek struck in the sixth.
Chen allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings. He came in with a 1.80 ERA.
"I thought he pitched great," Mazzilli said. "He made one mistake, getting that ball up to Varitek."
- Wells was seeking his first complete game since Sept. 17, 2003, against Baltimore.
- Boston is the only team in the majors that has not given up a first-inning run.
- It was the first time in 12 games that Baltimore never led.