The good news: The Red Sox still took two of three from the Orioles and held on to their 2 1/2 game lead over the Rays, who lost to the Angels earlier in the day.
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman (15-4, 3.61 ERA) kept the Red Sox off balance all night. The right-hander worked seven strong innings and allowed only two runs on six hits with no walks and eight strikeouts. He threw 111 pitches (77 strikes) in picking up the victory.
Red Sox starter Jon Lester entered his 28th start of the season with a personal two-game winning streak and has been throwing the ball well of late. The southpaw worked six innings and allowed three runs on five hits with three walks and four strikeouts. He tossed 112 pitches (67 strikes) and exited the game with the Sox trailing 3-2.
The Red Sox gained the early lead on Stephen Drew’s RBI single to give Boston a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the second.
Baltimore responded in the top of the third when the Orioles’ Manny Machado delivered a two-run double for a 2-1 lead. The Orioles added to their lead in the top of the fifth after Lester allowed a two-out walk and Baltimore’s Chris Davis made him pay with a RBI double off the Monster for a 3-1 lead.
The Sox’s Shane Victorino has been locked in at the plate and he continued his hot streak in the bottom of the sixth inning with a leadoff home run to cut Boston’s deficit to one run. It was his 12th of the season and fourth homer in the last four games. He leads the team with eight home runs since the All-Star break.
That was all the offense the Red Sox could muster in this one.
Defensive gem: There’s a lot of real estate in right field at Fenway Park, and Victorino does a solid job covering all that land. With two on and two outs and the Red Sox trailing 2-1 in the top of the third, Lester surrendered a long fly ball to the Orioles’ Matt Wieters. Off the bat, Lester’s reaction indicated he thought the ball would land in the Sox bullpen. However, Victorino, in an all-out sprint, made it to the warning track in right-center field and made a running catch before hitting the wall.
Milestone: With his stolen base in the bottom of the eighth, Jacoby Ellsbury recorded his 50th steal of the season. It’s the third time in his career he’s reached the milestone. Ellsbury led off the inning with a single to right field, and after a failed sacrifice-bunt attempt by Victorino, Ellsbury was off and running for the stolen base. He didn’t get a great lead or jump off first and the Orioles called a pitch out, but he still swiped the bag.
Slumping: Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz continues to struggle at the plate. He went 0-for-4, including two strikeouts and is hitless in his last 22 at-bats.
Streak ends: Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia had his nine-game hitting streak halted with a 0-for-4 performance.