BOSTON—In the desperate games, Buck Showalter is going to do things out of the ordinary. For the third time this season against the Boston Red Sox, Showalter called on Zach Britton for a save of more than three outs.
On Tuesday night, Britton came in and recorded four outs and converted his 42nd consecutive save as the Orioles scored five runs early, and held on for a big win.
Britton, Tommy Hunter, Donnie Hart and Brad Brach combined for 3 2/3 scoreless innings, allowing just three hits as the Orioles beat the Red Sox 6-2 before 38,041 at Fenway Park.
It looked as if it could be one of those nights where runs came easily for the Orioles. After they torched Drew Pomeranz for five runs in the second, their bats were strangely quiet.
With the win the Orioles (79-65) are two games behind Boston (81-63) for the AL East lead. They’re tied with Toronto for the first wild-card spot thanks to Tampa Bay’s 6-2 win over the Blue Jays.
“We’re watching, but at the same time, once you get later in that game, we’re just focusing on what we have to do because we know if we do our jobs, we’re going to have a chance to win the game,” Britton said.
“It really doesn’t matter what they’re doing. We have to win our games and then kind of keep it out of other teams’ hands. That’s the biggest thing right now. We don’t want to rely on other teams. We kind of want to create our own destiny.”
The Orioles scored five runs in the second on a three-run home run by J.J. Hardy, his ninth, and a two-run shot by Nolan Reimold.
It was Reimold’s first home run since July 24, and it doubled his second half totals to two homers and four RBIs.
Reimold was playing because Steve Pearce wasn’t. Pearce strained his right forearm on Monday night, and he’s scheduled to have it examined Wednesday. Pearce’s absence may mean more opportunities for Reimold.
“I go through stretches where it looks like I’ve never played before, but it just takes longer to break out of it unless you’re an everyday guy,” Reimold said.
All five runs were scored against Pomeranz (2-5) who was removed after Manny Machado singled to start the third.
The Orioles didn’t score again until Jonathan Schoop led off the ninth with his 24th home run.
Dylan Bundy teetered in the second inning when he walked three batters, including two straight with the bases loaded, giving Boston two runs.
Bundy (9-5) didn’t allow another baserunner until Xander Bogaerts led off the fifth with his 19th home run, and the Orioles lead was 5-3.
“He ain’t happy about coming out of that game, but I thought he was…his tank was on the other side towards the end,” Showalter said.
“Second inning was probably one of the keys to the game, didn’t let it get away from him. If you look at the people he was facing, they got…there’s nothing fancy about it. They’ve got wiffle ball numbers, most of their guys, it seems like.”
Chris Young walked to start the sixth, and after Jackie Bradley, Jr. flied to center, Tommy Hunter replaced Bundy and his first batter, Ryan Hanigan hit into a double play, ending the inning.
Bundy allowed three runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings.
“It could have been a lot worse. It could have been 6-5. Or something like that. It could have been way worse. Think I got three pop-ups, something like that. I was fortunate they popped the ball up,” Bundy said.
Hunter left with one on and one out in the seventh, and in his first matchup with David Ortiz, young left-hander Donnie Hart retired Ortiz on a fly out to left, and Brad Brach got Mookie Betts to do the same.
Brach struck out Hanley Ramirez as the eighth begun, and Travis Shaw singled and Young flied to right, and manager Buck Showalter called on Zach Britton for a four-out save.
Britton recorded those four outs, the fourth time he’s done that in a save situation, and the third time against Boston. He has 42 consecutive saves.
“You run out of things to describe what he’s done for us this year and last. To go out there in the ninth inning and go three up, three down, the top of their order, on the road, that’s hard to do. I think we’re 7-7 with these guys, and we know how good they are, so we get a chance to win another series on the road, which is something we knew we were going to have to do,” Showalter said.
NOTE: Kevin Gausman (7-10, 3.61) faces Rick Porcello (20-3, 3.21) on Wednesday night.