Baltimore, MD – The Boston Red Sox have been in free fall for on crisis mode.
Robert Andino's three-run, inside-the-park home run capped a four-run sixth inning as Baltimore downed Boston, 6-3, in the opener of a three-game series from Camden Yards.
Coupled with Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees, the Rays and Sox are tied atop the AL wild card standings with identical 89-71 records. Each team has two games remaining.
"We know we have to win two games now," Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury said. "We have to come out in the next two days and compete. We have to look at it like these are playoff games."
Chris Davis added two hits and drove in a pair of runs for the Orioles, who have won five of seven.
Troy Patton (2-1) turned in 1 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for the win.
Josh Beckett (13-7) was charged in defeat with seven hits and six runs over six full frames.
The Orioles surged to victory thanks in part to a bit of history. When Vladimir Guerrero hit a leadoff single in the deciding frame, he surpassed Julio Franco on the all-time hit list for Dominican-born players with 2,587. He swiped second with one out, Mark Reynolds walked and Davis doubled home the go-ahead run.
Andino followed with a deep drive to center field which Ellsbury appeared to have tracked down. However, the ball popped out of his glove as he collided with the wall. All three runs came in, with Andino crossing home plate easily, and it was 6-2 for the Orioles.
The hit was extra special for Andino, who had his father attending the game.
"It's priceless," Andino said. "Who would think I'd hit an inside-the-park home run in my dad's first game."
Jim Johnson came on in the ninth, but plunked Ellsbury, who moved to second on a balk and scored on Pedroia's hit to right. David Ortiz singled, but Adrian Gonzalez flied out and Lowrie fanned swinging to prolong Boston's late-season swoon.
Lowrie's leadoff shot over the scoreboard in right gave Boston a 2-1 edge in the fourth, but the O's countered in the fifth. Adam Jones led off with a single, Reynolds walked and Davis plated a run with a base hit.
Orioles starter Tommy Hunter allowed seven hits and one earned run in five innings...Beckett, who walked four and fanned five, finished the year 1-2 with a no-decision against Baltimore...Prior to the game, the Red Sox recalled catcher Luis Exposito from Triple-A Pawtucket...Ellsbury extended his hit streak against the Orioles to 34 straight games, dating back to April of 2009...Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek was a late scratch with a left-knee injury, while backup Jarrod Saltalamacchia departed in the eighth after being hit in the throat by a foul ball.