BOSTON – The Orioles methodically keep gaining ground. Over the last three weeks, they’ve won 15 of 20 games and crept closer to the AL East lead.
In their last seven series, they’ve won six and split one and are two games behind Tampa Bay for first place.
On Thursday, they scored six runs in the fourth on their way to an 8-6 win over the Boston Red Sox before 37,706 at Fenway Park.
“We have a very good offensive team. When we put up runs, we kind of want to bury teams. We don’t want them to come back,” Steve Pearce said.
Pearce had a season-high three hits.
The Red Sox (32-42) scored one run off Miguel Gonzalez in the second. With one out, Mike Napoli sent a ball down the right field line. First baseman Chris Parmelee and right fielder Delmon Young tumbled into each other. The ball went for a double. Alejandro De Aza singled him to third. Napoli scored on Blake Swihart’s single.
The Parmelee-Young encounter was the second potential injury in two innings for the Orioles. David Ortiz ended the first with a fly down the left field line that Pearce caught just in foul territory. Pearce made the catch and slammed into the left field wall.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who was traded to the Red Sox for Andrew Miller last July 30, retired the first 10 Orioles to face him. On June 9 in Baltimore, Rodriguez pitched six shutout innings, allowing just three hits.
The Orioles blistered Rodriguez for six runs on seven consecutive hits. With one out, Parmelee doubled. Nolan Reimold’s slow roller was fielded by Rodriguez who threw wildly to first, allowing Parmelee to score on the infield single.
Matt Wieters hit his third home run of the year for a 3-1 lead. Young and Chris Davis singled and both scored on J.J. Hardy’s double, Pearce singled, and Flaherty’s sacrifice fly scored Hardy for a 6-1 lead.
Rodriguez (3-2) was finally removed after Flaherty’s out. In two afternoon starts against AL East teams, E-Rod has allowed 15 runs in 15 1/3 innings. In his other four starts, he’s allowed two earned runs in 27 hits.
“I just knew we had to do something different to be able to get a win against him than we did last time. We put up a big inning against him. He still had great stuff today, but you know when you put up some big innings it gives you a good chance to win the game and we were just able to keep it going that inning,” Wieters said.
Boston got three runs back in the fourth on De Aza’s fourth home run, his first with the Red Sox. Pablo Sandoval and Napoli began the inning with singles before De Aza’s home run.
The Orioles (38-34) extended the lead to 7-4 in the sixth. With two outs, Pearce doubled, Flaherty was hit by a pitch from Tommy Layne, and against Jonathan Aro, making his major league debut, Manny Machado singled to score Pearce.
With his three hits Pearce has inched his way up to .219, more than 30 pointer higher than where his average was three weeks ago when the Orioles started winning.
“We all know he’s a couple of knocks from going a month where nobody can get him out. We’ve seen that. That comes from his confidence in our memory and our confidence in what he brings,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Gonzalez hit Napoli to start the sixth, and he was replaced by T.J. McFarland. In his first start since he faced Rodriguez on June 9, Gonzalez (6-4) allowed four runs on eight hits in five-plus innings. He was on the disabled list for 15 days with a strained right groin and is now 4-0 with a 2.93 in seven games in Boston.
“We knew that things were going to turn around for us and everything is going well. Our defense and offense is really doing a good job,” Gonzalez said.
Davis’ single scored Reimold in the seventh for an 8-4 lead.
Xander Bogaerts’ seventh inning double off McFarland scored Mookie Betts. After Ortiz’s infield out moved Bogaerts to third, he scored on McFarland’s wild pitch, and it was 8-6 after seven.
Tommy Hunter polished off Boston in the eighth. Zach Britton pitched the ninth for his 21st save.
“Little by little we have our moments. We’re now taking a couple of steps forward and maybe one back,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Corey Kluber (3-9, 3.65) faces Wei-Yin Chen (3-4, 2.89) on Friday night as the Cleveland Indians come to Baltimore for three games. Chen will be recalled from Frederick, where he made a three-inning start on Saturday. … The Orioles acquired minor league pitcher Richard Rodriguez from Houston for a player to be named later or cash.
MORE ORIOLES: Maine native is at home at Fenway