BALTIMORE -- Quick hits, Red Sox 6, Orioles 4:
Numbers game: The Sox took two of three from the Orioles after losing two of three to the Rays on this trip. They went 3-3 while the Yankees won six in a row over the same span. The Rays took two of three against Toronto after the Sox left town to go 4-2. So the Sox lost three games in the standings to the Yankees, whom they trail by 8 games. They lost one game to the Rays, whom they trail by 6 ½ games.
By beating the Orioles the last two games here, the Sox regained the lead in the season series, 8-7, with three games left in Fenway Park. Last season, the Sox went 16-2 against the Orioles. The O’s are 5-31 against the rest of the AL East this season.
Dice-K's ninth win: Daisuke Matsuzaka, who hadn’t pitched since Aug. 21 because of a sore back, held the Orioles scoreless through the first five innings, allowing doubles to Nick Markakis and Matt Wieters. He was knocked out in a four-run sixth, the last hit a two-run double by Wieters, the Orioles’ second-year catcher who has six hits in nine career at-bats against Matsuzaka.
Matsuzaka received credit for his ninth win against four losses due to stellar relief work by Scott Atchison, who retired all six batters he faced, three on strikes.
“I think I did a good job through the first five innings,’’ Matsuzaka said through translator Masa Hoshino. “This was my first time since I aggravated my back that I threw at full strength, and I think there is a little adjustment there that I need to get over. I think in the sixth inning I rushed a little bit.’’
Matsuzaka said he did not feel any pain or discomfort in his back, but obviously the problem is one that has flared up periodically since spring training.
Big inning: The Sox batted around for the 28th time this season when they sent 10 men to the plate while scoring five runs in the second inning.
Beltre does it again: Adrian Beltre led off the second with his 25th home run, which leads all AL third basemen. Beltre has hit more home runs than any Red Sox third baseman since Butch Hobson hit 28 in 1979. Hobson hit 30 in 1977, the club record for a third baseman and well within Beltre’s reach. Beltre now has 92 RBIs. He drove in 23 runs in August, second in the AL to Toronto’s Jose Bautista's 24. Paul Konerko of the White Sox also had 23 RBIs in August.
Family outing: Corey Patterson of the Orioles, who pinch-hit in the ninth and dropped a sacrifice bunt against Jonathan Papelbon, is the older brother of Sox outfielder Eric Patterson, who had entered the game in the seventh as a defensive replacement.
“It’s happened a couple of times, probably four or five,’’ Eric Patterson said of appearing in the same big-league game as his brother.
“There’s not one that stands out. I guess the first one, when he was with the Reds and I was with Chicago [Cubs]. I came in and pinch-hit, he started in center that game. That’s the only one that stands out, because it was the first one, but other than that there hasn’t been anything too exciting either one of us has done.’’
The brothers spent time together this week. “We hung out a couple of times,’’ Eric said. “It’s so crazy during the season. You get to talk on the phone and text and stuff, but you don’t really get to see each other. It was good.’’
Pap owns O's: Papelbon, who collected his 35th save, has allowed the Orioles only 3 earned runs in 36 innings in his career, an ERA of 0.75. It is the lowest ERA of any pitcher who has thrown at least 30 innings against the Orioles.
Papelbon now has five straight seasons of 35 saves. He had to work for this one, as singles by Felix Pie and Matt Wieters and Patterson’s sacrifice bunt put the tying runs on second and third with one out. But Papelbon came back to strike out Cesar Izturis and Josh Bell to end it.
Surgery for Pedroia: Dustin Pedroia and Jason Varitek are both scheduled for CT scans on their fractured feet Friday. Pedroia will most likely have surgery on Friday afternoon, with George Theodore and Thomas Gill of the Sox medical staff slated to perform the procedure to insert a screw into the foot. Varitek expects to be cleared for a brief rehab assignment. Pawtucket plays in Scranton-Wilkes Barre on Saturday, then returns home for its final two games. Varitek will either join the PawSox on Saturday or, more likely, await their return to McCoy Stadium. Manager Terry Francona said he didn’t know what the plan was.
Storm warning: Hurricane Earl is scheduled to arrive in New England on Friday. With the White Sox off Thursday, Manny Ramirez is presumably already in Boston. There’s a line there someplace, maybe “It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” Guessing that Manny won’t have anything to say, but with next year’s contract riding on how he plays the final month with the White Sox, expect him to take some serious hacks against his former mates.
He had 5 hits in 12 at-bats against the Sox, including a home run off Tim Wakefield on June 19, when he appeared with the Dodgers, the last team he chose to play intermittently for. Incredibly, that’s the last of the eight home runs Ramirez has hit this season.
“I don’t think he’ll be stopping by my office,’’ Francona said.