Orioles blow lead but rally to beat Red Sox, 5-4

After his team squanders 4-0 eighth-inning lead, Guerrero's RBI single lifts O's to win

  • The Orioles' Vladimir Guerrero drives in Derrek Lee for what would be the winning run in the eighth inning. The host Orioles beat the Red Sox, 5-4.
The Orioles' Vladimir Guerrero drives in Derrek Lee for… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
April 27, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Second baseman Brian Roberts said the disappointment of blowing a four-run lead in the eighth inning, of wasting another strong outing by Jeremy Guthrie and of watching the potential go-ahead run get thrown out at the plate lingered for a few seconds. Then, the longest-tenured Oriole looked toward the batter's box and came to a realization.

"You look up and you still have one out, a man on third and you got Vladi up," Roberts said. "You can't feel too bad about that situation."

Thinking that hard-throwing Boston Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard was going to pitch around him, Vladimir Guerrero, the veteran slugger signed late in the offseason to give the lineup a proven run producer, instead found a pitch to his liking and ripped it through the drawn-in infield to break an eighth-inning tie. Closer Kevin Gregg pitched a perfect ninth for his fourth save as the Orioles claimed a 5-4 victory over the Red Sox in front of an announced 15,514 at Camden Yards.

"I get men on base, and that's something I look forward to," Guerrero said through interpreter Rudy Arias, an Orioles batting practice pitcher. Guerrero is 6-for-19 with eight RBIs with runners in scoring position this season. "I thought they were going to pitch me four balls, but he gave me a good pitch to hit, and I hit it up the middle."

Guerrero's hard grounder, which whizzed by second baseman Dustin Pedroia, scored Derrek Lee and came on the pitch after Nick Markakis was thrown out at the plate, trying to score on a ball in the dirt that rolled away from Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

Markakis and Lee had started the decisive bottom of the eighth with singles and moved up a base when Varitek allowed a passed ball.

"It's a challenge mentally, but you can't dwell on those things, good or bad," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I don't think Vladi spent much time thinking about it. He was looking for something he could hit hard, and I like our chances there with the infield in."

With the victory, the Orioles (10-12) moved out of last place in the American League East, a spot now held by Boston, which arrived in Baltimore with a two-game winning streak and as winner of eight of its past nine games. The Orioles will go for a 5-4 homestand and a three-game sweep of the Red Sox (10-13) on Thursday night, but they'll have to get through Red Sox ace Jon Lester to do it. Lester is 13-0 against the Orioles in his career.

While their struggles against the New York Yankees have been well documented, the Orioles are 11-7 against the Red Sox in the past 18 meetings after going 3-25 against them in the previous 28 matchups.

Their latest victory included six shutout innings by Guthrie, back-to-back homers by Luke Scott and Adam Jones off Josh Beckett in the fourth inning, and a bullpen meltdown that cost Guthrie a hard-earned win.

Scott's two-run shot, which broke a scoreless tie, landed 426 feet away on Eutaw Street, the 53rd time that has happened in Camden Yards history. Scott has five of them, tying Rafael Palmeiro for the most by an Oriole. He enjoyed this one, flipping his bat and watching the ball's flight. It was not appreciated by the intense Beckett, who yelled at him as he rounded the bases and motioned toward the Orioles dugout after the inning ended.

"Is this TMZ?" Beckett asked when questions about Scott persisted. "I thought we were talking about a baseball game. You want to know about bat flips and talking to umpires. I think we should just stick to the game."

Beckett did say that "those things have a way of working themselves out."

Scott, who is 10-for-23 with three home runs and seven RBIs against Beckett in his career, said he meant no disrespect to the Red Sox pitcher.

"Just enjoying the moment," Scott said. "When I got in the dugout, the guys said he was yelling or something like that. I have all the respect in the world for Josh Beckett. He's one of the best pitchers in the game."

On this night, Beckett was out-pitched by Guthrie, who left the game having given up seven hits and one walk in six innings with the Orioles leading 4-0.

Guthrie's pitch count was at 111, mostly because the Red Sox had fouled off so many pitches early in the game. Jacoby Ellsbury and Pedroia started the game with back-to-back eight pitch at-bats.

"Well, usually they hit my pitches a lot further, so I'll take a foul ball," joked Guthrie, who had lost his past seven decisions against the Red Sox entering Wednesday. "They usually hit them further, so if they're going backwards or straight up, we'll take it."

The way the Orioles' bullpen squandered Guthrie's win and a four-run lead, however, was no laughing matter. Jeremy Accardo pitched a perfect seventh inning but allowed the first two Red Sox to reach in the eighth. Adrian Gonzalez made it a 4-1 game with an RBI single off Clay Rapada. Koji Uehara entered, promptly fell behind 2-0 to Kevin Youkilis, and served up a game-tying three run homer.

It was shaping up to be another disappointing night until Guerrero came to the plate in just the situation team officials had in mind when they signed him.

"That's a huge swing of emotions," Scott said. "For about 30 seconds, we were like, 'Oh, that [stinks].' But the guys were positive and optimistic in the dugout, and we got back after it."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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