Birds tripped up in finale at Fenway
Orioles bullpen gives up four runs to Sox in the seventh
BOSTON -- Mythology and superstition seemed to collide at Fenway Park on Thursday, when Orioles manager Dave Trembley correctly evaluated a problem spot for his team and then watched helplessly as events proved him right.
Trembley spoke at length about how the seventh inning has been an Achilles' heel for Baltimore, and the Red Sox made the pronouncement look like a jinx by scoring four times in that fateful inning to break a tie and seize a 7-4 win. Rob Bell, touted before the game as a potential solution to the seventh inning enigma, wound up allowing four runs.
"That's just part of the game. We didn't great three outs," Trembley said in the aftermath. "You don't single out one guy. ... They've got a very good hitting club. They work the count, they got some walks [and] they got some two-out RBI hits. They're not in first place for nothing."
Superstition aside, the game was one of the sloppiest the Orioles have played in several weeks. Left fielder Jay Payton misplayed two consecutive balls in the third inning, third baseman Aubrey Huff dropped a popup near the dugout and right fielder Nick Markakis made a long run and an error -- his first in 148 games -- on a key play in the sixth.
That last play could've been the most costly, but the Red Sox ran themselves out of a potential rally. Backup catcher Doug Mirabelli -- who homered and finished with three hits -- tagged too late on a bases-loaded fly ball and was gunned out at home to end the inning. That let starter Jeremy Guthrie off the hook and cued up the key seventh inning.
"It was a tough day all the way around," Guthrie said. "I think it showed even on their end late in the game. It was tough with a day game here and a loud crowd and everything. It wasn't a great day for me, and overall, for the team."
Bell (3-2) didn't get hit hard, but he gave up four hits to blow the game open. The right-hander sandwiched two groundouts around a hit and seemed to be on the verge of escaping, but then he fell behind Eric Hinske 3-0 and issued the fourth ball intentionally. Boston got two straight singles to score two runs, then Dustin Pedroia hit a two-run double.
"Rob Bell threw the ball great, way better than the results indicated," said backup catcher Paul Bako. "Mirabelli cued a changeup off the end of the bat. And [Alex] Cora hit a groundball with eyes up the middle. Rob threw the ball 100 times better than the results said. It was just a bad luck day for Rob Bell, to be honest with you."
Boston (66-42) took the game's first lead, getting a run in the third inning courtesy of consecutive balls hit to Payton in front of the Green Monster. The veteran said the first ball -- a double by David Ortiz -- was a miscommunication and the second -- a run-scoring single by Manny Ramirez -- was uncatchable.
"It might have looked like I messed it up, but it was more of a deke to keep him from getting to second," he said. "The first one, I would've caught. ... I had lined up the catch, and [center fielder] Corey [Patterson] was telling me I've got room, but I thought he was calling for it. Since it was so late when he said that, I kind of shied away thinking he was coming.
"Last time, we had a collision and he jumped in my face so I got a little gun shy when I heard his voice. If he wouldn't have said anything, I probably would've gone ahead and caught it."
Guthrie, who has walked three or more batters in six straight starts after not doing it at all in his first 12, lost his command a bit in the fourth. He served up back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches to Hinske and Mirabelli, a pair of hitters who had combined for just seven home runs all season.
"Early on, it was great," Guthrie said of his command. "As I got a little more tired and threw a lot of pitches early, the command got away from me for a few at-bats. Overall, the fastball was pretty good for me. I threw some good sliders. We were getting ahead of guys, but a couple calls didn't go our way and we ended up with walks."
Baltimore (50-57) came back with a three-run rally in the fifth against Boston starter Tim Wakefield, a burst sparked by a leadoff triple from Huff. The veteran scored on a sacrifice fly and Bako singled to keep the inning alive. Leadoff man Brian Roberts doubled Bako over to third and Patterson tied the game with a two-run bloop single.
That was all the scoring until the seventh, when Boston put the game away to earn its second straight win. The Orioles fell to 2-6 against the Red Sox this season and 20-15 against American League East opponents. Baltimore had won three straight series before falling to the Sox, and will try to get back on the right track this weekend in St. Petersburg.
"We're playing good baseball [and] we're not giving up on ourselves," Payton said. "You've got to try to take the positives out of it. We're playing good baseball against good teams. We just played a good series against the Yankees and a good series against Boston where we could've taken two out of three."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter at MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.