BALTIMORE -- Dr. Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox maestro of special occasions, was in the house Friday night, exactly a year to the day after the Valentine’s day massacre of 2012, when Sox players aired their grievances about manager Bobby Valentine to team ownership in a New York hotel.
The Good Doctor’s presence here was purely coincidental. There would be no formal observance of that transformative moment in the team’s annals -- less than a month later, the Sox unloaded Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, and Valentine was clearly on borrowed time.
And there was nothing that took place Friday night worth celebrating, the Sox tumbling out of first place in the American League East, losing to the Baltimore Orioles, 6-0, while the Tampa Bays were routing CC Sabathia and the Yankees in New York.
The Rays' win moved them a half-game ahead of the Sox, who had led the division for the last 60 days, while the Orioles closed to within three games of the lead. The Orioles have taken six of eight from the Red Sox this season.
Meanwhile, the Boston bats remained on the endangered list, right-hander Chris Tillman shutting out the Sox on two hits through seven innings to run his record to 13-3. David Ortiz singled in the ninth off Jim Johnson for Boston’s last hit.
The Sox, who have been the majors’ most prolific run machine this season, are in the midst of a prolonged dry spell, failing to score more than two runs for the sixth time in the last nine games. That stretch, not surprisingly, has coincided with facing some of the most formidable pitching in the league: Bartolo Colon of the Athletics, Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees, Matt Moore and David Price of the Rays, and on Friday night, Tillman, an American League All-Star who improved his record against the Sox to 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA in eight career starts.
Boston’s best chance to get to Tillman came in the first, when they loaded the bases on Dustin Pedroia’s two-out single and walks to Ortiz and Mike Napoli. But Tillman struck out Daniel Nava on three pitches to end the inning, and allowed just two baserunners thereafter. He walked Nava with two outs in the fourth and gave up a two-out double to Jacoby Ellsbury in the fifth.
Lackey gave up a two-out single to Nick Markakis before Jones hit his first home run of the night, an opposite-field drive that just cleared the scoreboard in right. The Orioles made it 3-0 when Ellsbury, after a long run, failed to hold onto Nate McLouth’s gapper to right-center, the play ruled a triple. Manny Machado then rolled a grounder over the mound for an RBI single.
Jones hit his second homer of the night and 22nd of the season almost to the same spot as his first HR in the fifth, and Machado lined a homer to left with one out in the seventh, finishing Lackey for the night.
It was the first time this season that Lackey has given up four or more earned runs in back-to-back starts.