BOSTON — Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel had a tough decision to make after Marco Scutaro's double in the eighth inning put the go-ahead run on second base with two outs.
Starter Brad Bergesen had retired 10 straight batters before Scutaro's double and he was working on one of his best starts of an otherwise frustrating season. Samuel knew that if he brought in left-hander Will Ohman to face the left-handed hitting Eric Patterson, Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona would likely go to his bench and summon a right-handed hitter.
With Bergesen's pitch count at 100, Samuel opted to go with Ohman and Francona sent up Daniel Nava in Patterson's place. Samuel then watched helplessly as Nava dumped a bloop single into shallow right field between three on-rushing Orioles. Nava's hit scored Scutaro and closer Jonathan Papelbon did the rest as the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 3-2, in a brisk two hours and seven minutes in front of an announced 38,067 at Fenway Park.
It was still an uplifting outing for Bergesen, who allowed the three runs on just five hits and no walks and struck out a season-high seven over 7 2/3 innings. It tied for his longest outing of the season.
His only problem was that he couldn't keep J.D. Drew in the ballpark as the right fielder continued to pound the Orioles with two solo homers off Bergesen, and the Orioles (24-55) did next to nothing off Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield. The knuckleballer gave up just two runs, one on a Nick Markakis homer, over eight innings to beat the Orioles.
One of the most surprising things about the Orioles' awful start is that they entered Friday night with a winning record against the Red Sox, their long-time tormentors. They took a 5-4 lead in the season series into Friday night's series opener, but four of those wins came at Camden Yards, and few places have treated the Orioles as unkindly over the years at Fenway Park.
Entering the night, the Orioles had dropped 15 of their past 17 games at the venerable ballpark on Yawkey Way, and they were just 9-34 at Fenway since former closer B.J. Ryan surrendered a three-run, game-winning homer to David Ortiz on June 2, 2005.
It, of course, was not a typical Red Sox lineup that the Orioles were facing Friday night. In fact, it included just five of Boston's regulars -- Scutaro, Drew, first baseman Kevin Youkilis designated hitter David Ortiz, and third baseman Adrian Beltre.
All-Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia, center fielder and leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury, veteran third baseman Mike Lowell, outfielder Jeremy Hermida, and both Boston catchers, Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek, are on the disabled list. Veteran center fielder Mike Cameron is not, but he was a late scratch from the game with abdominal soreness.
However, it was Drew, one of the regulars from the patchwork lineup, who put Boston on the board first. He hammered Bergesen's 1-1 pitch deep to center field for a solo homer in the second inning. A fan in the front row overlooking the Green Monster reached out and touched the ball just before it landed. It wasn't clear in replays if the fan's hands had reached over the wall and nobody from the Orioles' dugout contested the home run ruling.
Of the first 10 Orioles to bat Friday night against Wakefield, seven of them either popped or flied out as the hitters appeared to be leaving their shoes in an effort to drive one of the fluttering pitches over the wall.
But Markakis, who popped out in his first at-bat, waited on one out and drove into the Boston bullpen in right field, tying the game at one. It was just Markakis' fourth homer of the season, his first one on the road and his first overall since May 25 against the Oakland Athletics.
The Orioles then took the lead in the fifth, using three singles off Wakefield to go in front, 2-1. Rookie Josh Bell, getting his second career start though this one at designated hitter, got the first one with a single to right. Cesar Izturis then lined a two-out single to right and Corey Patterson then did the same, allowing a chugging Bell to score from second without a throw home.
The Orioles' 2-1 lead lasted a grand total of one pitch. Drew jumped on Bergesen's 1-0, 90 mile an hour fastball and sent it over the Green Monster for his second solo homer. It gave Drew 10 homers on the season, five of them coming against the Orioles.
It was also Drew's second multi-homer game of the season against the Orioles with the other coming on April 30 in Camden Yards.
With the second homer, Drew improved to 12-for-30 (.400) with five homers, 11 RBIs, three doubles, 10 runs and two walks against Orioles' pitching this season.
He also moved to 5-for-11 with two homers and four RBIs in his career against Bergesen, who looked in control against everybody else in the Red Sox lineup.
Through seven innings, Bergesen, who was knocked around for five earned runs on six hits and two walks by the Washington Nationals in his first start back from Triple-A, had allowed only four hits, no walks and he struck out a season-high six batters, including Drew in his third at-bat in the seventh inning.
Wakefield, meanwhile had allowed only six hits and one walk while fanning four.