The race for first place in the American League East is extremely close, as the Boston Red Sox take on the Baltimore Orioles in the rubber match of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
After Boston suffered a 6-0 shutout loss in the series opener, Stephen Drew went 3-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI to power the Red Sox to a 7-3 win on Saturday. Shane Victorino also played a big role in the win as he belted a two-run home run.
"Yeah, Stephen, those were some big hits for us," said second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "He swung the bat great. Good at-bats today from a lot of the guys. Good win, we can kind of build on that."
The Red Sox had lost three of four coming in to the game to drop out of first place for the first time since May 25, and they still trail Tampa Bay by a half-game after the Rays blanked the New York Yankees on Saturday.
Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz was ejected by home plate umpire Tim Timmons for arguing balls and strikes in the seventh inning. After striking out, Ortiz damaged equipment in the dugout with a several vicious swings and needed to be restrained by coaches and teammates.
The visitors will hand the ball over to Jon Lester on Saturday as they attempt to take back control of the division. Lester allowed only two runs over 6 1/3 innings in a win over the Rays on Tuesday. The strong showing improved his ERA in the month of July to 4.01. Prior to Tuesday's start, Lester had gone 2-6 with a 6.27 ERA in his previous 11 outings.
"Tonight was probably as powerful as he's been all year," said Boston manager John Farrell after the win. "Another step in the right way for him."
Lester is 14-2 with a 2.86 ERA in his career against the Orioles, who will counter with Jason Hammel.
Baltimore's Opening Day starter took a losing decision for the third time in four starts on Tuesday as he gave up three runs on 10 hits over six innings against Kansas City. Hammel is now 7-7 on the season after failing to collect a win since May 27.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was pleased with Hammel's effort on Tuesday despite the loss.
"(Fastball command is) still a challenge for him, but he's a guy who works real hard in his work day. He can really impress you on his work day, he just hasn't been as consistent in the game as he's capable of," said Showalter. "I think once he gets a couple good games under his belt, he might get back to the level he's spoiled us at. A lot of pitchers in the Major Leagues would have liked to have had the outing he had tonight."
Orioles slugger Chris Davis went 1-for-3 with two strikeouts. The first baseman has struck out at least once in 21 straight games since July 3. His batting average has since dropped from .329 to .307.
Baltimore has won six of nine against the Red Sox this season. The Orioles are only 4 1/2 games back of the Rays in the divisional race and are in second to only Boston in the wild card standings.