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Must C Clips: Andino's inside-the-park homer

BALTIMORE -- Robert Andino is not a power hitter. But he hit the home run heard 'round the American League on Monday night.

Andino became the first Oriole to hit an inside-the-park homer at Camden Yards when he belted a three-run shot in the sixth inning that broke the game open and helped Baltimore take a 6-3 victory over the slumping Red Sox before 21,786 fans.

That home run sent the Red Sox to their 19th loss in 25 games and wiped out their lead in the American League Wild Card race. Boston's loss, combined with Tampa Bay's 5-2 victory over the Yankees, left the Red Sox and Rays tied for the AL Wild Card spot with two games remaining in the regular season. Both teams have records of 89-71.

The Orioles have helped the Rays by beating Boston in four out of five games since Sept. 19. Baltimore won three of four at Fenway Park last week and took the opener of this season-ending three-game series.

"They're a good baseball team that played with a lot of effort tonight and was scratching and clawing the whole way," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "[They] had the tying run at the plate. It was a good baseball game with two teams playing at a high-intensity level."

The intensity increased in the sixth, when the Orioles snapped a 2-2 tie to take command.

Vladimir Guerrero started the game-winning rally with a single off Red Sox starter Josh Beckett and later stole second base for his second steal this year. He was still there with two outs when Chris Davis lined a shot into the right-field corner. That brought in Guerrero to piut Baltimore up, 3-2.

Mark Reynolds had walked before Davis' hit and stopped at third on it. Andino followed with his shot to deep center. Jacoby Ellsbury nearly made a spectacular running grab, appearing to catch the ball for an instant before crashing into the wall.

But that collision jarred the ball loose and it squirted away. Andino never stopped running and slid safely home when the relay throw skipped past Boston catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. That wrapped up a four-run inning and gave the Orioles a 6-2 lead.

"[Ellsbury's] a good center fielder, so first time I got out of the box, I was hoping either it got out or he doesn't catch it," Andino said. "He caught it, but he hit the wall and dropped it, so that's my cue to keep running."

What made it more special for Andino was his father came to Baltimore from Florida to watch him for the first time as a pro.

"I've got no words for it," Andino said. "It's priceless."

Guerrero also had a special moment -- the single that started the sixth-inning rally made him the all-time leader in hits by a Dominican-born player. The designated hitter has 2,587 hits in 16 seasons.

"I've played a lot of years, 16 years, so it felt very good, very satisfying to get [it]," Guerrero said through an interpreter.

Matt Wieters helped with a solo homer in the second, and Davis added an RBI single in fifth before the four-run sixth. Starter Tommy Hunter, still bothered by his groin problems, battled through five innings. It was a 2-2 tie when Troy Patton replaced him to start the sixth.

Patton retired all five batters he faced, and five relief pitchers combined to limit the powerful Boston lineup to one run on four hits in four innings.

Pedro Strop escaped from a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth by striking out Saltalamacchia and getting Marco Scutaro to ground into a force play. Jim Johnson came on in the ninth and gave up a run, but got out of a two-on, one-out problem by retiring Adrian Gonzalez and Jed Lowrie to slam the door.

"We still control our destiny," Gonzalez said. "If we win two games and have to play a third, if we win, we're in the playoffs. We all have to be confident."

Showalter's health was the other item of interest postgame. The Orioles announced early in the game that Showalter had an ankle problem that was being treated. Showalter said afterward that he just turned his ankle while taking out the lineup cards. X-rays were taken of the ankle, and while the skipper hadn't heard results, he thought it was fine and made it back to the bench around the second inning.

"I'm good, fine," he said. "I just turned my ankle. It's more embarrassing than anything."

When asked if he was day to day, Showalter smiled.

"Minute to minute," he said.

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