BALTIMORE -- John Lackey looked even taller than usual as he strode off the mound at the end of the fifth inning of the Boston Red Sox's 5-4 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday afternoon, and if there was a little swagger in each step, why not.
The 6-foot-6 Texan had just squashed a first-and-third, no-out jam, refusing to be flustered by consecutive infield misplays, including one by Dustin Pedroia that was the first error of the 2013 season for the Red Sox second baseman, ending a streak of 97 straight errorless games dating back to last Aug. 29.
Lackey was aided considerably by catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who gunned down Nate McLouth trying to steal, the Orioles apparently thinking the Sox catcher would not throw with a runner at third and Manny Machado at the plate. Lackey then retired the hot-hitting Machado on a comebacker to the mound, freezing Taylor Teagarden at third, then retired Nick Markakis on a fly ball to the track in left.
That would be the last the Orioles would be heard from Saturday afternoon until the ninth inning, when a two-run home run by Matt Wieters off Sox closer Andrew Bailey drew the Orioles to within a run. J.J. Hardy followed with a single, but a colossal baserunning error by pinch-runner Alexi Casilla enabled Bailey to escape further peril, as Ryan Flaherty lined out to right and Shane Victorino easily doubled off Casilla, who said he thought Victorino had "no chance" of catching the ball and was on third base when Victorino threw to Mike Carp at first.
"Terrible read," Casilla said.
The Red Sox, losers of the first two games of the series, extended their lead over the Orioles to 2 ½ games in the AL East, emerging from an offensive deep freeze that had seen them score in just three of their previous 40 innings.
Mike Carp, rapidly stamping himself as the most dangerous part-time slugger in the American League, hit a game-tying two-run home run in the fourth inning, his eighth in just 103 at-bats this season and fifth in the past 10 games.
Carp, starting in place of the ailing Mike Napoli, who was sent back to Boston for tests to determine the cause of dizziness and grogginess he has experienced since Thursday, broke a string of 18 consecutive scoreless innings for the Sox. Pedroia was aboard on a single after he was given a reprieve by plate umpire Jeff Nelson, who ruled that Pedroia had foul-tipped a third-strike pitch, a dubious call.
Stephen Drew's double into the right-field corner broke the tie in the same inning, Jonny Gomes scoring from first with a great read, beating the throw with a head-first slide. A little small ball added a run in the fifth. Jacoby Ellsbury singled, stole second, took third on Victorino's sacrifice bunt, and scored on Pedroia's infield out.
Gomes hit his fourth home run of the season in the sixth, finishing Orioles starter Freddy Garcia.
Lackey trailed, 2-0, four batters into the game, but wound up going seven innings for the win, his first since May 24. McLouth opened the Orioles' first by lining a ball off Lackey's foot for a single, Machado doubled, Markakis singled home a run, and an infield hit by Adam Jones made it 2-0.
But Lackey closed it off there, and after Koji Uehara struck out the side in the eighth, Bailey held on at the end.