In his first start since serving a six-game suspension, the excitable Wells was solid and steady for the Red Sox, pitching his first nine-inning complete game of the season in Boston's 5-1 win Sunday.
"Right now, every win is clutch for us," Wells said. "I felt good. My body felt good. Warming up was pretty good. I didn't feel rusty at all."
Wells (12-6) was suspended for arguing with umpires on July 2, but came back strong. He allowed seven hits, struck out four and retired his last 12 batters. It was the seventh time in eight games that he did not issue a walk.
During the suspension, Wells worked out at Fenway Park. He also was called to a meeting Wednesday with baseball officials in New York. Afterward he apologized for saying commissioner Bud Selig dragged his feet on the steroid issue.
"I found out I was wrong," Wells said Sunday, but declined to comment on Selig.
Wells had one other complete game this season, a 3-1 loss at Baltimore that was shortened to six innings by rain.
"Regardless of how much (the suspension) bothered him or how he felt about things, he really did a good job to get ready for his start," Red Sox manager Terry Francona said.
Rodrigo Lopez (13-9) pitched better than Wells in the first four innings, retiring his first 11 batters after he set down the last 14 batters in his previous start against Boston. He allowed one hit through four, while Wells gave up five hits and put runners on base in each inning.
Lopez lost his touch quickly in the fifth when the first six batters reached safely, leading to five runs -- three on John Olerud's sixth homer.
Singles by Trot Nixon and Bill Mueller put runners at first and third, and Olerud sent the first pitch from Lopez over the fence in front of the right-field bullpens. It came three days after he had two homers and six RBI in a win over Tampa Bay.
"They're hot, and when you're hot everything works for you," Lopez said. "They're comfortable and they're doing what they need to do to get ready for the playoffs."
Wells retired the side in order in the fifth before allowing a run on consecutive doubles by Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada in the sixth. But those were the last baserunners for the Orioles, who had trouble seeing the ball as shadows crept over the field late in the game.
"As you get older it gets tougher and tougher" to pitch a complete game, the 42-year-old Wells said, "but it's pretty gratifying. I'm pretty stoked right now."
Lopez entered with a 10-4 career record -- the most wins by any pitcher against Boston since 2002 -- and a 3.54 ERA against the Red Sox.
- Graffanino returned to the lineup at 2B after missing four games with a strained hamstring.
- The Orioles lost their second straight game after winning three in a row and are 4-12 in their last 16.
- Baltimore's Jay Gibbons went 2-for-3 and was 7-for-12 in the series.
- Boston scored fewer than seven runs for the second time in its last 17 home games.
- 1B Kevin Millar was benched in favor of Olerud after hitting his third homer in three starts Saturday night. The lefty-hitting Olerud faced the right-handed Lopez.