BALTIMORE—The Orioles have lost seven of nine, and it didn’t help that Mookie Betts had the best night of his career on Tuesday night.
The Boston Red Sox right fielder slugged three home runs, driving in five runs as Boston beat the Orioles 6-2 before 17,664 at Oriole Park.
Boston (32-20) has won the first two games of the four-game series and leads the Orioles (28-22) by three in the AL East.
It was the first three home run night of Betts’ career, and the first time an opponent had hit three in Baltimore since Ryan Zimmerman did it on May 29, 2013.
Betts, who now has 12 home runs this season, hit two off Kevin Gausman and the third off Dylan Bundy.
Gausman (0-3) allowed home runs to the first two Boston batters, Betts and Dustin Pedroia.
It was the first time an Orioles pitcher had allowed two home runs to start a game since June 14, 2006 when Rodrigo Lopez did it in Toronto, and it hadn’t been done at home in 20 years.
Betts hit a three-run home run in the second inning, and Gausman was abruptly behind 5-0.
“It's frustrating definitely. You just try to take it pitch by pitch after that. The biggest thing is just trying to stay in there as long as you can and give your team a chance to win. Just take it pitch by pitch,
try to get groundballs and quick outs,” Gausman said.
Eduardo Rodriguez, who the Orioles traded for Andrew Miller in July 2014, started his first game of 2016.
Rodriguez (1-0), who had been out with a knee injury, gave up a run on a single to Joey Rickard in the third and a two-out double by Nolan Reimold.
Manny Machado nearly drove in Reimold, but his long fly ball to deep center was caught by Boston center fielder Chris Young, whose leap robbed Machado of at least a double—and maybe more.
Paul Janish led off the fifth with a double to right and scored on Adam Jones’ single to cut Boston’s lead to 5-2.
Gausman threw 113 pitches, the most he’s thrown in his career, and managed to make it through six innings. He didn’t allow a hit in his final 3 1/3 innings.
Bundy came on to start the seventh, and with one out, Betts hit his third home run.
The Red Sox had some help. Janish was robbed of a hit to end the seventh when Betts dove in to snatch the ball.
“I’m thinking to myself, ‘Mookie is having a pretty good night. I can do without him adding to it with that catch, right?’ He’s one of the better young players in the game obviously. At this juncture in time, I could use the hit,” Janish said.
Janish says there’s no easy explanation for the Orioles’ rough patch.
“It’s one of those where I don’t think there’s anything in particular to pinpoint. As quickly as the game goes the other way, it can go our way, too, and that’s we’re waiting for, and we look forward to that happening sooner or later,” Janish said.
Chris Davis, who hasn’t hit a home run since May 20, thought he hit a two-run shot in the eighth that would have cut the deficit from four runs to two.
First base umpire Doug Eddings called the ball foul. First base coach Wayne Kirby immediately signaled it was a home run, but after a review, the call stood.
“Chris hits a home run and we can’t get a camera angle that will show it. We finally got one that showed it was fair,” manager Buck Showalter said.
“So those are some of those things that you present for yourself that matter a lot when you get into some deficits early. You’ve got to stay away from that kind of, I don’t want to say that ‘here we go again’ mentality, but certainly that something where you follow a pattern for a few games early in the game and it challenges you.”
The Orioles need to win Wednesday and Thursday to salvage a split.
“It's pretty obvious that we're struggling right now, but hopefully we can turn around and even this series up. They're the best team in baseball right now, so you have to be on your game. If you're not, it's tough against this team, against this lineup, against their bullpen. Their starters are pitching well too right now, so it kind of seems like everything's clicking for them right now,” Gausman said.
NOTES: Yovani Gallardo will start the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader at Frederick. Game time is 5 p.m. … Joe Kelly (2-0, 6.30) faces Mike Wright (2-3, 5.05) on Wednesday night.