The Red Sox fell behind early, battled back, and blew a late lead. But they still held on for a series-clinching victory over the Orioles on Thursday afternoon. Boston defeated Baltimore, 5-3, to extend its winning streak to three and improve to 75-81 on the season.
Nathan Eovaldi, making his first start since August 12, pitched well in his return from the injured list. The veteran right-hander allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and zero walks to go along with three strikeouts over 4 2/3 innings of work.
Both of those Orioles runs came in the top of the third. Following back-to-back singles from Kyle Stowers and Jorge Mateo to lead off the inning, Stowers scored from third by avoiding Connor Wong’s tag on an Adley Rutschman groundout. Anthony Santander then hit a grounder in the direction of Triston Casas, who booted the ball. The fielding error allowed Mateo to score from third to double his side’s lead at 2-0.
The Sox pulled back even with Baltimore in their half of the fourth. J.D. Martinez reached base on a one-out double off Orioles starter Mike Baumann. Casas then made up for his previous mistake by roping a 330-foot double off the Green Monster that plated Martinez to make it a 2-1 game. Enrique Hernandez followed with a run-scoring single of his own to bring in Casas and knot things up at two runs apiece.
Eovaldi, meanwhile, retired the first two batters he faced in the fifth before getting the hook from Red Sox manager Alex Cora. The 32-year-old hurler finished with 72 pitches (51 strikes). He did not factor into the decision, but he did lower his ERA on the season down to 4.05.
In relief of Eovaldi, Eduard Bazardo recorded the final out of the fifth and also sat down the side in order in the top of the sixth. A half-inning later, Boston got to Orioles reliever Cionel Perez.
Alex Verdugo led off with a line-drive single and promptly advanced to second base on a wild pitch. He moved up an additional 90 feet on a Casas single and then raced home when Christian Arroyo grounded out to third base.
With a brand new one-run lead in hand, Matt Strahm almost immediately gave that up in the seventh when Stowers took him 399 feet deep to right-center to tie the score at 3-3.
Following a scoreless top of the eighth from Zack Kelly, though, the Red Sox again responded. With one out and one runner on, Martinez came through with a clutch two-run homer on the very first pitch he saw (a hanging slider on the inner half of the plate) from Dillon Tate.
Martinez’s 14th home run of the season left his bat at 100.1 mph and travelled 392 feet into the Monster Seats to give the Sox a 5-3 lead going into the ninth. There, Kaleb Ort worked his way around a two-out single to notch the first save of his big-league career. Kelly was credited with his first career win as well.
Offensively, Verdugo, Martinez, and Casas accounted for six of Boston’s nine hits. Verdugo went 2-for-4 with a double and two runs scored, Martinez went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored, and Casas went 2-for-3 with an RBI, a run scored, and a walk.
Next up: Final road trip to Toronto
The Red Sox will now head to Toronto for their final road trip of the season. It comes in the form of a three-game weekend series against the Blue Jays. Native Canadian Nick Pivetta will get the start for Boston in Friday’s series opener opposite fellow righty-hander Alek Manoah.
First pitch from Rogers Centre is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. eastern time on NESN and MLB Network.
(Picture of J.D. Martinez: Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)