Father-to-be Gonzalez sharp as O's trim East deficit
Davis' 23rd homer No. 100 of career; Baltimore within 1 1/2 of Boston
BALTIMORE -- Three days before his wife is scheduled to give birth, Miguel Gonzalez turned in a strong start as the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 6-3, on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.
The Orioles took three of four from the visiting Red Sox, and now trail the American League East leaders by 1 1/2 games. It's the sixth consecutive series Baltimore has won against Boston, and the Orioles have also won nine of the last 10. No team in baseball has won more series this season than the O's.
"Just to get on a roll," Chris Davis said of the importance of winning a series over the Red Sox. "Anytime we can rattle off some wins against a division opponent it's a good thing, especially these guys, knowing they're in first place. We're definitely happy the way the series went."
With Baltimore still looking up at the Red Sox in the AL East, manager Buck Showalter said it's too early to look at the standings.
"Play Boston as much as we do in the spring and last year and this year, there aren't many secrets," Showalter said. "You kind of line up and know you're going to play some competitive games, you hope. But it all plays off your pitching. We pitched well this series. Very appropriate that the father-to-be had a good day on Father's Day."
Gonzalez breezed through the first two innings, and after the fifth, he had only allowed one baserunner to get as far as second base.
The offense backed the father-to-be, as they tagged Boston starter Jon Lester for five earned runs in five innings. He struck out eight and didn't walk a batter, but the Orioles strung together hits at the top of the order to provide run support for Gonzalez. Nick Markakis was 4-for-5 from the leadoff spot while playing good defense in right field and taking at least one extra bag on the basepaths.
Manny Machado hit his Major League-leading 32nd double in the first inning, wasting no time extending his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games. But he was stranded there when J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones both struck out. Machado singled in the fifth and scored on Davis' RBI double.
"It was fun to watch our hitters hit, especially against Lester. He's been doing a great job this year and always pitched well against us," Gonzalez said. "That was pretty fun to watch Markakis, CD [Davis], Machado and all the other guys do a great job on staying with it and hitting the ball everywhere. So it was fun."
The Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the third off Lester. Jones hit a two-out RBI double, driving in Markakis from second. Davis followed with a long two-run homer to right field. It was the 100th home run of his career and his 23rd this season, most in the Major Leagues.
Davis said he knew he was nearing the milestone, but didn't know if the third-inning blast was his 100th. When he discovered it was, he said he traded a bat for the home run ball to add to his collection.
Before the homer, Davis had been 0-for-14 against Lester in his career, including a first-inning strikeout.
In fact, the Orioles' lineup as a whole had historically struggled against Lester. Entering Sunday, the Red Sox lefty was 14-1 in 21 career starts versus the Orioles. He was 7-0 with a 2.52 ERA in 10 career starts at Camden Yards.
But Davis and the Orioles reversed those trends Sunday, sticking Lester with the loss after he pitched just five innings.
"This team counts on me to throw innings," Lester said. "I have not done that. I need to do a better job going deeper into the game."
Gonzalez got through the fourth and fifth with ease, as he faced the minimum six batters over those two frames. The only hiccup was a leadoff walk to Mike Carp in the fifth, but he was erased on a tailor-made 6-4-3 double play two batters later.
Baltimore tacked on two runs against Lester in the fifth, when Markakis doubled and Machado plated him with an RBI single to the outfield. The throw to the plate was cut off as the Red Sox tried to nab Machado at second, but the return throw sailed to the right of the bag and back into the outfield, and Machado moved on to third. After Hardy and Jones struck out, Davis drove home Machado with a double to left field.
Gonzalez ran into trouble in the seventh, when Carp doubled and Jarrod Saltalamacchia singled to put runners on first and third with one out. Then Will Middlebrooks hit a three-run home run over the wall in right field to knock Gonzalez from the game. In 6 1/3 innings, Gonzalez allowed three runs on five hits, struck out two and walked two.
In the seventh, Baltimore scored another run, which was set up when Markakis doubled to open the inning, the third time he led off an inning with a base hit. Machado bunted him to third and Hardy drove him in with a sharp single through the left side of the infield.
The Orioles' bullpen combined to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings to close out the win for Gonzalez, with Jim Johnson earning his 25th save by pitching a clean ninth.
The day belonged to Gonzalez, though, who said he's anxiously awaiting the birth of his first child. He talks daily with his wife and receives updates. He will travel with the team to Detroit, and whenever the moment comes, will go to California to be with his wife.
"It gets me pumped up. I'm excited," Gonzalez said. "I'm excited for her to come and obviously she's taking a little longer than what we thought, but just waiting on that day."