Orioles rookie right-hander David Hernandez learned how difficult it is to face the Boston Red Sox twice in such a short period. It was the Orioles' offense, however, that received the biggest education Saturday night at Camden Yards, courtesy of an All-Star pitcher on top of his game.
Right-hander Josh Beckett threw seven shutout innings, and the Red Sox continued their dominance over the Orioles with a 4-0 victory in front of 49,384, the largest crowd at Camden Yards this season and the fourth-largest in the park's 18-year-history. It was the seventh time that the Orioles have been shut out this season.
"Beckett showed tonight why he is one of the most dominating pitchers in the game," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "He's throwing 89 mile-an-hour, 90 mile-an-hour changeups, cutters, 97 mile-an-hour fastballs in on your hands. The guy is just one of the game's best."
Beckett allowed just six hits and struck out five in becoming the major leagues' first 13-game winner, and helped the Red Sox defeat the Orioles (44-59) for the 10th time in 12 tries this season. Boston (61-42) will go for the series sweep this afternoon.
Trailing by four runs and looking to get back into the game, the Orioles had men on first and second and no outs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings and failed to score each time.
Beckett got Nolan Reimold to hit into a double play to end the sixth. Matt Wieters hit into a double play in the seventh. In the eighth, Hideki Okajima fanned Nick Markakis and then got Aubrey Huff to line into an inning-ending double play as Adam Jones was caught too far off first base.
"I felt like we were one hit three different times from getting back in it and pulling off one of those comebacks that we've had here in the past," Trembley said. "And I really felt confident in the seventh and eighth innings that we were going to bust through on them, and we didn't. We just didn't do it."
Six days after pulling off a rarity for an Orioles pitcher and throwing seven innings to beat the Red Sox at Fenway Park, Hernandez couldn't make it through the fifth on Saturday. He allowed a first-inning home run to Dustin Pedroia and a fifth-inning solo shot to Kevin Youkilis, who went 4-for-4 and reached base in all five plate appearances.
Hernandez (3-3) battled control problems throughout, throwing 102 pitches and allowing seven hits and walking four after giving up five hits and no walks against Boston last Sunday. Hernandez allowed just two runs, but lasted only 4 1/3 innings - the shortest start of his career - putting a huge burden on the Orioles' bullpen.
"It just felt like they were a little more patient than they were in Boston," Hernandez said. "It's the second time they've seen me, but I just have to be able to throw my off-speed pitches for strikes, and I wasn't able to do that tonight."
The Orioles were lucky the margin wasn't worse. The Red Sox had 13 hits and drew eight walks, tying a season high against the Orioles this season. But Boston stranded 15 base runners, the most the Red Sox have left on in a nine-inning game this season.
The Red Sox's final scoring chance ended with relief pitcher Danys Baez exchanging words with Boston catcher Jason Varitek, who apparently wasn't pleased with how hard he was tagged on a rundown that was initially botched by the Orioles.
Trembley called Varitek's reaction "interesting." Baez, who had to be restrained by plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, had cooled down after the game.
"He's a good player; he plays the game right," Baez said of Varitek. "I was trying to not drop that ball. I probably tagged him a little harder than I should, but that was an important play at the time."
The game ended without further incident as Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard struck out two of the three batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth. It was a fitting end to a frustrating night for Orioles hitters.
"It's really hard to go out there against a guy with Beckett's stuff and have him hit his spots like he did," Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott said. "He's one of the toughest in the league. He's just got tremendous stuff. He's a great competitor, and his location is just fantastic."
for Saturday's game PG 4
RED SOX @ORIOLES
Today, 1:35 p.m.
TV: MASN HD
Radio: 105.7 FM