BOSTON—If the Orioles are going to play meaningful games in the last month of the season, they’re going to need extraordinary pitching performances.
In two of the three games at Fenway Park this week, they received them. On Tuesday, Chris Tillman was superb, and two nights later, Tyler Wilson pitched the best game of his major league career.
Wilson threw eight innings of shutout ball, his longest outing ever, giving up three hits as the Orioles beat the Boston Red Sox 5-1 before 36,557 at Fenway Park on Thursday night.
The Orioles (38-27) took two of three from Boston (37-28) to take a one-game lead in the American League East. The two clubs don’t play again until Aug. 16.
Manager Buck Showalter doesn’t necessarily believe his club and the Red Sox will be fighting for the AL East throughout the season.
“We’re trying to stay in the moment of every game. It’s an opportunity to get one game closer to getting a chance to play late in the year. Nobody knows,” Showalter said.
The Orioles have won six of the 10 games played between the clubs, and taken two of three both times they’ve played at Fenway.
“It’s not about us and them. I think this division, how good and how deep the pitching is and the offense, we’ll see. I always say look at the record after the All-Star break and we’ll see,” Adam Jones said.
Jones had three RBIs and his eighth home run in the last 14 games.
“I want to give a round of applause to Tyler Wilson. To stifle a lineup like this, he did a really good job throwing strike one. I think today’s about him, I don’t care about myself,” Jones said. “He went out there and in a rubber match of this game, a big series win and threw eight innings, eight strong innings."
Wilson (3-5) retired the first six batters to face him. Mookie Betts led off with a liner to left that Nolan Reimold made a diving catch on, and in the fifth, right fielder Joey Rickard slid to rob Travis Shaw.
He gave up a single to Sandy Leon with two outs in the third. Betts walked, and Dustin Pedroia ended the inning with a foul pop to first that Chris Davis snared.
Paul Janish made the fourth excellent catch of the evening when he jumped to catch Xander Bogaerts liner to start the seventh. David Ortiz followed with a double breaking Wilson’s streak of 11 straight retired.
“Oh man. That was a highlight reel. Those guys played awesome. They play awesome all year long, but when they can put a few plays in succession, it really kind of sparkles a little bit. Guys are diving for foul balls,” Wilson said.
Showalter said he made it easier for his fielders.
“That type of defense seems to be played behind guys that throw the ball over the plate and work quickly,” Showalter said.
Though Wilson threw a wild pitch, sending Ortiz to third, Jackie Bradley, Jr. grounded to Wilson, leaving Ortiz at third to end the seventh.
Shaw singled with one out in the eighth, but Wilson left him at first as he struck out the side.
Wilson wanted to finish the ninth, but he became the first Orioles starter to throw eight shutout innings in Boston since Mike Boddicker on Aug. 30, 1985.
“It’s an easy decision for me to just sit there and let the bullpen take over the game when they’ve done as well as they have,” Wilson said.
Brad Brach gave up a home run to Ortiz with two outs in the ninth
Jones hit a two-run home run off Eduardo Rodriguez (1-2) in the third, his 13th of the season, and eighth in his last 14 games.
In the fourth, Jones’ single scored Jonathan Schoop, and the Orioles took a 5-0 lead in the fifth on an RBI single by Davis, and a run-scoring double by Schoop.
Rodriguez allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Orioles have three more division games this weekend when the Toronto Blue Jays come to Baltimore. The Blue Jays, who have won three straight trail the Orioles by two games.
“You know how finicky this division is. It can go, one extreme to the next. One team can get hot, one team can get cold and especially when you get a cold team playing in the division, the winds seem to change hands a little different. So just grind it out, see where we [are] September 1,” Jones said.
NOTES: J.J. Hardy was 1-for-5 in his third rehab game for Bowie. He played nine innings, and was 4-for-11 in the three games. …Aaron Sanchez (6-1, 3.38) faces Mike Wright (3-3, 5.31) on Friday.