After splitting the first two games, the Red Sox came up short of a series win over the Orioles in Wednesday afternoon’s finale. Boston instead fell to Baltimore by a final score of 6-2 at Camden Yards to drop the series and drop back to .500 on the season at 13-13.
The Red Sox were previously unbeaten in games started by Tanner Houck. That is no longer the case. Houck, making his fifth start of the year for Boston, allowed four runs (three earned) on seven hits and two walks to go along with two strikeouts over five innings of work.
Coming off a career-high seven innings in his last time out, Houck ran into some immediate trouble in the bottom of the first on Wednesday. After Cedric Mullins led off with a single, Adley Rutschman reached on a fielding error committed by rookie second baseman Enmanuel Valdez. Valdez’s third error of the season already put runners at the corners for Anthony Santander, who got the Orioles on the board first by plating Mullins on a sacrifice fly to center field.
It did not take long for the Red Sox to respond, though, as Mastataka Yoshida led off the second inning with a 412-foot solo shot off Orioles starter Tyler Wells. Yoshida’s fourth homer of the year pulled Boston back even with Baltimore at 1-1, but the Orioles began to pull away in their half of the fourth.
Houck gave up three consecutive singles to Adam Frazier, Ryan O’Hearn, and Ramon Urias. Frazier came into score on Urias’ base hit. Following a successful sacrifice bunt from Terrin Vavra, Mullins drove in O’Hearn with an RBI single that deflected off Valdez. Rutschman then brought in Urias from third with a sacrifice fly that put the O’s up, 4-1, going into the fifth.
Santander’s fly ball had an expected batting average of .650, but Yoshida made a fantastic diving catch in left field to rob Santander of a hit and prevent at least one additional run from scoring.
The fifth inning would prove to be Houck’s last. The 26-year-old right-hander finished with 86 pitches (59 strikes), but he only induced six swings-and-misses. He was also charged with his first losing decision of the season as his ERA rose to 4.50.
With Houck’s day done, Boston got back on the board in the sixth. Alex Verdugo laced a one-out double and scored his side’s second run a Justin Turner RBI single that knocked Wells out of the game. Baltimore, however, wasted no time in retaliating.
Richard Bleier, who took over for Houck in the bottom of the sixth, yielded back-to-back singles to the first two batters he faced. Mullins dropped down another bunt to move up both runners and Rutschman drew a walk to fill the bases for Santander, who drove in Urias from third on a sacrifice fly to give the Orioles a 5-2 lead.
The Sox had a golden opportunity to cut into that deficit in the seventh, as Enrique Hernandez and Jarren Duran each singled to put runners at first and second with no out. The Orioles then dipped into their bullpen, pulling Danny Coulombe for Yennier Cano. Cano responded to the challenge by fanning Christian Arroyo and retiring the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire to extinguish the threat.
From there, Brennan Bernardino put up a zero in the bottom of the seventh and John Schreiber yielded an RBI double to Urias in the eighth to put the Red Sox in a 6-2 hole. Down to their final three outs in the ninth, Hernandez and Triston Casas made things somewhat interesting by reaching base off Orioles closer Felix Bautista. But Bautista did not waver, as he sat down the next three batters he faced to send the Red Sox home losers after going 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and leaving seven runners on base as a team.
With Wednesday’s loss, which took two hours and 27 minutes to complete, the Red Sox wrap up their six-game road trip having gone 3-3. They are now 3-3 against the Orioles and 3-7 against divisional opponents as a whole.
Next up: Off day on Thursday, then Bieber vs. Pivetta on Friday
The Red Sox will travel back to Boston and have Thursday off after playing 19 games in 19 days and going 10-9 in that stretch. They will then welcome the Guardians into town for a three-game weekend series at Fenway Park beginning on Friday.
Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston in the series opener opposite fellow right-hander Shane Bieber for Cleveland.
First pitch from Fenway Park is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Tanner Houck: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)