The race for first place in the American League East is extremely tight, as the Boston Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles in the second matchup of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
Adam Jones stroked a pair of home runs and Chris Tillman combined with two Baltimore relievers on a four-hit shutout, as the Orioles stifled the Red Sox, 6-0, in the opener.
Boston's second loss in a row cost it sole possession of first place in the division as it enters Saturday trailing Tampa Bay by a half-game. It marks the first time the Red Sox aren't at the top of division standings since May 26.
Red Sox starter John Lackey fell to 7-8 after being tagged for five runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings to take his third loss in his last four starts.
Ryan Dempster will take the mound for the visitors after collecting his fourth-straight no-decision on Sunday. He gave up five runs, three of which were earned, on six hits over 5 1/3 innings versus the Yankees at Fenway Park.
Dempster will struggle collecting his first win since June 25 if Boston's offense continues to falter. The Red Sox recorded only four hits in their shutout loss on Friday thanks to Jacoby Ellsbury's 2-for-4 showing at the plate. The team struck out a total of nine times and left six runners on base. Dustin Pedroia went 1-for-4 in the loss.
"I think we need to get more back to what makes us good, grinding out at- bats," Pedroia said after Friday's loss. "I think a lot of guys are trying too hard right now. We've got to let the game come to us and find a way, if a starter has great stuff, find a way to get him out of there. We haven't done that the last week or something. We'll get back to that tomorrow and start being a better team offensively."
Scott Feldman will be out to prove Boston's All-Star second baseman wrong. The 6-foot-7 right hander had his best outing since being acquired from the Cubs on Monday as he limited Kansas City to two runs and five hits over eight innings of action.
"It was nice to go eight innings, but I think the big thing was the offense coming out and putting up nine runs on the board," Feldman said after the victory. "(The offense) put up 17-18 hits, and they played some great defense for me, so they were putting the ball in play a lot and being pretty aggressive. The defense was the key."
After a no-decision and a loss in his inaugural two starts as an Oriole, Feldman has now won his last two.
Jones's first multi-homer game of the season provided more than enough run support for the hosts on Friday. He drove in three runs, while Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy each smacked a solo shot to help the O's snap a three-game skid. Machado had not had a multi-hit game in five-straight and still hasn't hit a double since July 6, when he recorded his 39th of the campaign at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore has won six of eight against the Red Sox this season. The Orioles are only 3 1/2 games back of the Rays in the divisional race and are in second to only Boston in the wild card standings.