Baltimore, MD – Entering the final day of September, the Baltimore Orioles will be holding a share of first place in the American League East.
Rookie Manny Machado smacked a tie-breaking solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning as the surprising Orioles moved into a tie for the division lead with a 4-3 decision over the Boston Red Sox Saturday at Camden Yards.
"It's coming down to the end, it's what we play for," Orioles first baseman Mark Reynolds said. "We're here having fun, just going out, believing we can win every game. It definitely shows. You get a bunch of no-name guys here just having a good time."
Machado sent a 1-1 pitch from Red Sox starter Felix Doubront into the left- field seats to open Baltimore's half of the seventh to snap a 3-3 deadlock.
"They've done a great job with their young third baseman," Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said of Machado. "He beat us tonight, just played excellent defense."
After relievers Brian Matusz and Darren O'Day combined to retire the side in order in the eighth, Jim Johnson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth to notch his MLB-best 49th save.
Machado added an RBI single earlier in the night as part of a 2-for-3 performance at the plate, while Chris Davis went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer as the Orioles -- who last reached the postseason in 1997 -- reduced their magic number for a playoff spot to two and pulled even with the New York Yankees for the AL East's top spot. New York dropped a 3-2 verdict to Toronto on Saturday.
Baltimore presently holds a one-game edge on Oakland for the AL's No. 1 wild card berth and is 3 1/2 games up on the Los Angeles Angels in the standings.
Tommy Hunter (7-8) earned the win with two scoreless innings in relief of starter Steve Johnson.
Doubront (11-10) struck out 10 batters in seven innings of work, but was saddled with the loss after surrendering four runs -- three earned -- on seven hits.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia had a two-run homer for Boston, which has now dropped eight of its last nine contests and is one defeat away from its first 90-loss campaign since 1966.
The 20-year-old Machado, who's 6-for-11 with three homers and six RBI over Baltimore's last three games, gave his team an early 1-0 edge with a one-out single that plated Davis in the bottom of the second inning. The Orioles would tack on two more runs in the fourth on Davis' 30th homer of the season and fourth in three contests.
Davis' blast brought home Adam Jones, who had reached base on a throwing error by Boston shortstop Mike Aviles.
Saltalamacchia pulled the Red Sox within 3-2 when he followed a leadoff walk to Mauro Gomez with his 25th homer of the year in the top of the fifth, and Boston would score once more an inning later to draw even.
Jacoby Ellsbury opened the sixth with a single and Scott Podsednik walked to end Steve Johnson's evening. After a fielder's choice advanced Ellsbury to third, Cody Ross lifted a fly ball to right against Hunter that was dropped by Davis to allow the Boston leadoff man to cross the plate for a 3-3 tie.
Hunter would escape further damage, however, by getting Gomez to bounce into an inning-ending double play, then tossed a scoreless top of the seventh to keep the game tied prior to Machado's heroics.
Steve Johnson allowed three runs on four hits with three walks before being removed with none out in the sixth.
Ellsbury finished 1-for-4 in his return to the lineup following a six-game absence due to a shoulder injury ... Orioles catcher Matt Wieters returned for Saturday's game after missing Friday's series opener following his wife giving birth to the couple's first child ... Doubront struck out a career-high 11 Baltimore hitters while yielding one run in seven innings in his previous start, which took place last Sunday in Boston ... Baltimore claimed first baseman/outfielder Steve Pearce off waivers from the Yankees on Saturday. Pearce played in 28 games for Baltimore earlier in the season before being traded to New York on June 2.