Published September 23, 2012
| Sports Network
The Baltimore Orioles' dominance in extra innings is a big reason why they could be headed back to the postseason for the first time since 1997. On Sunday they will try to complete a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Baltimore won its 16th straight extra-inning affair on Saturday, as Jim Thome hit an RBI double to spur a three-run 12th inning that propelled the Orioles to a 9-6 victory.
"The one thing I will say is, there's not some sense of panic or that finality -- especially on the road," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of his club, which has 11 extra-inning wins away from Camden Yards. "When you don't score in the top of your inning, the game could end. But we had some people get some big outs."
Adam Jones doubled off Alfredo Aceves (2-10) to begin the 12th and scored the go-ahead run on Thome's one-out hit. A two-out single by Endy Chavez plated pinch-runner Xavier Avery and Chavez hustled home on a base hit by Manny Machado off Chris Carpenter.
Jim Johnson pitched the bottom of the 12th to notch his major league-leading 47th save, extending his club record. Tommy Hunter (6-8) retired the Red Sox in order in the 11th for the win, Baltimore's season-high sixth in a row.
The Orioles haven't won seven in a row since an eight-game run April 22-May 1, 2005, a streak that included two victories in Boston.
Baltimore continues to trail the AL East-leading Yankees by one game. New York beat the Athletics, 10-9, in 14 innings to drop Oakland two games back of the Orioles for the top wild card spot.
Boston has now dropped four straight. It is 0-7 in extra-inning games played at Fenway Park this season, and 2-9 overall.
"When you don't have that firepower, I guess, (it hurts)," said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine. "The guys are giving great at-bats. We're just coming up a little short at times. They're wanting it real badly when they go up there, and maybe trying too hard to get the walk-off."
Hoping to add to the Red Sox misery on Sunday will be righty Chris Tillman, who has won his last three decisions. Tillman's latest win came on Monday in Seattle, as he held the Mariners to a run and three hits in six innings.
Tillman's eight victories have surpassed his total from the previous three seasons combined (36 starts).
"I was at home last year watching (in September), and it's good to be here and to have the opportunity," Tillman said. "Been a lot of hard work in the offseason, and even in season, and it's good to see it paying off."
Tillman has made three starts against the Red Sox and is 0-1 with a 5.73 ERA.
Boston, meanwhile, will counter with lefty Felix Doubront, who is 11-9 with a 5.08 ERA. Doubront won for the first time in six decisions on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, as he allowed three runs and just a hit in six innings. He did walk five batters in the 7-5 win.
"I just want to finish strong," Doubront said. "I think, for now, I'm getting back my confidence."
Doubront lost to the Orioles earlier in the year in his only other start against them. He has also faced them three times out of the bullpen and has pitched to a 4.00 ERA in his four outings versus the O's.
Baltimore is 10-4 versus the Red Sox this season, including a 7-1 mark at Fenway.