The Orioles made it easy by issuing nine walks, while two clutch hits by Mark Loretta provided the Red Sox with a 6-5 victory Thursday night.
Loretta singled home the tying run in the eighth inning and hit an RBI single in the ninth to put Boston ahead for good. The Red Sox have only a slim chance of reaching the playoffs, but they still took satisfaction in rallying to win.
"It feels good regardless of the situation. The last three or four weeks have been a very trying time for this team and this organization," Loretta said. "I thought it was a real good win for us, one of the better ones of the year we've had."
The positive feeling generated by the comeback victory was tempered by the realization that Boston might have to finish the season without outfielder Manny Ramirez, who missed a fourth straight game with a sore left knee.
Boston manager Terry Francona met with Ramirez before the game, and learned that the slugger continues to struggle running and swinging the bat. That left Francona wondering if it might be best to shut down Ramirez for the season.
"I don't know if that's going to happen. I do think it's a possibility," Francona said. "I hope it's not the case. It might be the case."
It's just the latest in a series of disappointments for the Red Sox.
"Assuming we don't have a miracle run here and that we don't make the playoffs, I have a little bit of a sour taste in my mouth with the season," Loretta said. "Things were really going well for the first four months; it was a lot of fun. Then a lot of things that were out of our control happened."
Boston trailed 5-3 before scoring single runs in the seventh and eighth. The Red Sox then took the lead in the ninth against Rodrigo Lopez (9-16).
Lopez walked the first two batters, and the runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Dustin Pedroia. After Alex Cora received an intentional walk, Loretta grounded a single to left.
"You can't come out in a tie ballgame and walk the first two guys," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "You can't keep giving opportunities to good teams. They'll come back and haunt you."
Keith Foulke (3-1) worked the eighth and Mike Timlin escaped a first-and-third jam in the ninth for his fifth save. Timlin gave up a leadoff double to Melvin Mora, who went to third on Nick Markakis' fly to center. Miguel Tejada was intentionally walked before Ramon Hernandez grounded into a game-ending double play.
David Ortiz walked four times and scored twice for the Red Sox, who took two of three from Baltimore to take a 13-2 lead in the season series. Ortiz has 101 walks, second in the AL behind Jason Giambi.
Down 5-3, Boston got a run in the seventh when Ortiz drew a leadoff walk from James Hoey and scored on a two-out double by Jason Varitek. Loretta tied it in the eighth with an RBI single off Orioles closer Chris Ray.
Down 3-0, Baltimore sent 10 batters to the plate and chased Boston starter Lenny DiNardo in a five-run fourth. After three straight singles loaded the bases, Kevin Millar hit an RBI single and DiNardo let in a run with a wild pitch. Chris Gomez walked with two outs and Jeff Fiorentino singled in two runs before Brian Roberts ended DiNardo's night with an RBI double.
The start was delayed 21 minutes by rain, and it wasn't long before controversy arose. Batting leadoff, Youkilis drove a 3-0 pitch from Adam Loewen to left-center that bounded back onto the field after striking the top of the wall -- or beyond.
Francona contended the ball hit the concrete barrier behind the padded wall, but his argument was in vain. It ultimately didn't matter because Youkilis scored from third on a grounder by Ortiz.
The Red Sox made it 3-0 in the fourth. Lowell singled in Ortiz, who drew a leadoff walk, and another run scored when Trot Nixon hit into a double play. Loewen avoided further damage by striking out Alex Gonzalez with runners on the corners.
Loewen gave up three runs, six hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings.
- Mora made the first and third outs in Orioles' fourth inning.
- Baltimore fell to 19-18 in one-run games.