The Baltimore Orioles passed their first test against formidable American League foes and look to carry that momentum into Beantown tonight in the opener of a three-game series against the Boston Red Sox.
The Orioles have the third-most wins in the AL with a 16-9 mark and are second in the American League East Division behind the Tampa Bay Rays.
Baltimore recorded a rare series win in the Bronx by handing the New York Yankees a 5-0 setback Wednesday night. Jake Arrieta started for the O's and kept the Yankee Stadium crowd quiet with eight scoreless innings and nine strikeouts with no walks. Jim Johnson tossed a scoreless ninth to preserve the shutout.
"It's nice to beat teams in your division and be able to gain that full game," Arrieta said.
Matt Wieters and Nick Markakis hit solo homers for the Orioles, who won the last two of the three-game series after starting the season 0-4 against the Yankees. Baltimore has won eight of its last 10 games and will resume a six- game road trip Friday. The club is in the midst of playing against the Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Rays and Yankees again.
The Orioles are 8-5 as the guest this season and sit seven games over .500 for the first time since July 19, 2005. They also held New York to two runs or fewer in three consecutive games in the Bronx since 1978.
Baltimore will hand the ball to youngster Wei-Yin Chen tonight and he will make his fifth career start. Chen is 2-0 with a 2.22 earned run average in his first four starts this season and shut down Oakland the last time out in a 10-1 drubbing on Saturday. The lefty allowed one run on six hits in seven innings and struck out four. He has fanned at least four batters and lasted five innings in each of his first four appearances.
Chen, signed out of Japan over the winter, will face the Red Sox for the first time in his career.
Boston has lost two straight and three of four games since winning six in a row, and will continue a six-game homestand Friday.
The Red Sox dropped two of three meetings with Oakland at Fenway Park and sustained a 4-2 loss to the Athletics Wednesday. Dustin Pedroia and Marlon Byrd drove in runs for the Red Sox, who received a rough outing from starting pitcher Daniel Bard. Bard gave up four runs on eight hits with two walks and one strikeout over 5 1/3 innings to fall to 2-3.
"I had a hard time putting guys away, especially early in the game," Bard said after the game.
Boston dropped to 4-7 at Fenway Park this season and hasn't been in last place this late in a season since 1996. The Red Sox hope slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez can break out of his recent slump and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats with a .250 batting average. Gonzalez hasn't homered since April 17 versus Texas.
Jon Lester gets the call for Boston tonight and he is coming off his first win of the season. In a 1-0 road victory over the Chicago White Sox on Saturday, Lester had his best outing of the season with seven shutout innings and a season-high seven strikeouts. Lester was 0-2 with a 6.00 earned run average in his previous four starts before improving to 1-2 and lowering his ERA to 4.65.
Lester, a left-hander, has dominated the Orioles in his career to the tune of a 14-0 record in 18 starts to go along with a 2.36 ERA.
Boston took 10 of the 18 meetings with Baltimore a year ago, but lost four of the last five matchups in the series.