The Red Sox were unable to put end to their three-game losing streak with a series-opening win over the Orioles on Friday night. Boston fell to Baltimore by a final score of 3-2 at Camden Yards to drop to 67-72 on the season.
Matched up against O’s starter Austin Voth to begin things on Friday, the Sox left a runner on base in each of the first two innings before getting on the board in the third.
Connor Wong led off with a hard-hit double and it seemed as though Boston was about to squander another scoring chance after Tommy Pham struck out and Alex Verdugo lined out. But Xander Bogaerts kept the inning alive by cranking a two-run home run 379 over the shallow fence in right field.
Bogaerts’ 13th home run of the season gave the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead. Brayan Bello, meanwhile, was in the midst of his seventh start of the year for Boston.
The rookie right-hander wound up allowing three earned runs on three hits and four walks to go along with seven strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings of work, though he pitched better than that line indicates.
Thanks to some poor baserunning decisions from Cedric Mullins, Bello faced the minimum without giving up a run through his first four frames. After walking a pair in a scoreless bottom of the fifth, Bello ran into more substantial trouble in the sixth.
Mullins was at the root of it, as he reached base via a one-out single. Bello then issued back-to-back walks to Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander to load the bases. That prompted Red Sox manager Alex Cora to emerge from the visitor’s dugout and give Bello the hook in favor of fellow righty Kaleb Ort.
Finishing with a final pitch count of 87 (49 strikes), Bello induced a total of 17 swings-and-misses while mixing in 30 four-seam fastballs, 22 changeups, 21 sliders, and 14 sinkers. The 23-year-old hurler averaged 96.4 mph with his four-seamer. He was charged with his fifth loss of the season as his ERA rose to 5.79.
Ort officially closed the book on Bello’s night, but not in a good way. He allowed all three runners he inherited to score on a wild pitch and a two-run single off the bat of Gunnar Henderson. Ort got through the rest of the sixth unscathed, though the damage had already been done.
Going from a two-run lead to a one-run deficit, the Sox threatened to score in their half of the seventh. After Verdugo drew a two-out walk and advanced to second base on a Bogaerts single, the potential tying run was just 180 feet away for Rafael Devers. Devers, however, could not come through against Orioles reliever Cionel Perez, as he popped out to shallow left field.
Following a scoreless bottom of the seventh from Zack Kelly, J.D. Martinez reached base in the eighth on a out-single. Rob Refsnyder pinch-ran for Martinez and moved up to second on a Triston Casas groundout. He then advanced to third after Enrique Hernandez reached on a fielding error. But Dillon Tate, who committed the error, got the pinch-hitting Reese McGuire to strike out swinging to strand Refsnyder at third base.
Matt Barnes put up another zero in the eighth to keep the deficit at one going into the ninth. Verdugo got the tying run on base by beating out a one-out infield single. Bogaerts then grounded into a routine 6-4-3 double play to end it.
With the loss, the Red Sox are now 5-8 against the Orioles and 18-40 against divisional opponents on the season. They went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position on Friday and left 10 runners on base as a team.
With his second-inning single, J.D. Martinez recorded the 1,500th hit of his big-league career. Martinez, who went 2-for-3 with a walk on Friday, currently ranks 22nd among the active major-league leaders in hits.
Next up: Wacha vs. Lyles
The Red Sox will look to put an end to their four-game losing streak on Saturday. Veteran right-hander Michael Wacha is slated to start for Boston while fellow righty Jordan Lyles is expected to do the same for Orioles.
First pitch is scheduled for 5:05 p.m. eastern time on NESN.
(Picture of Brayan Bello: Greg Fiume/Getty Images)