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Two-out sixth-inning error costly for O's in loss

MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' offense had one of the Major Leagues' best pitchers on the ropes with a three-run first inning. And heading into the sixth inning, with the game tied at 3, Red Sox ace Chris Sale had thrown 101 pitches and wasn't going to last much longer.

But a costly error in the sixth inning broke the tie and led to the Orioles' 7-3 loss in the series finale.

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BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' offense had one of the Major Leagues' best pitchers on the ropes with a three-run first inning. And heading into the sixth inning, with the game tied at 3, Red Sox ace Chris Sale had thrown 101 pitches and wasn't going to last much longer.

But a costly error in the sixth inning broke the tie and led to the Orioles' 7-3 loss in the series finale.

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Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland led off the sixth with a single, but Orioles starter Chris Tillman came right back with a strikeout of Hanley Ramirez for the first out. The righty then gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases, prompting a mound visit from catcher Francisco Pena.

"[He was] just giving me time," Tillman said. "It was kind of a long inning. Giving me time to regroup and focus on the next pitch. Trying to keep the snowball effect from happening. Get off the mound for a couple seconds and make some pitches."

Tillman came back with a clutch strikeout of Sandy Leon for the second out before Deven Marrero stepped to the plate.

Jumping ahead to an 0-2 count, Tillman didn't want to throw anything in the zone, so the righty threw a 75-mph knuckle curve in the dirt that bounced in front of the plate, causing Pena to have to quickly pop out of his squat in front of the large hop. Pena pulled off the impressive block and saw that Moreland had strayed far away from third base.

The catcher grabbed the ball and threw down to third in an attempt to pick off Moreland, but the ball sailed wide of Manny Machado at third and into left field, allowing two runs to score and break the 3-3 tie.

"It was a tough play right there, a tough block. I had it in front of me. I just think I hesitated a little bit," Pena said. "Yeah, [the runner's path] was [an issue]. It was, but as a catcher you're always aggressive. He's giving you an out right there. You've got runners on base, and a guy that puts the ball in play a lot. I thought I had an opportunity, and I took it, but ... bad throw. All I can do is come back [Tuesday] and try and win a ballgame."

"I don't know how the ball stayed in front of [Pena] like it did, and in reach," Moreland said. "I just tried to get in the baseline a little bit -- and hopefully he made a bad throw, and we were fortunate enough he did, and it ended up paying off for a couple of runs right there."

After the play, the Orioles produced only four more hits, causing them to settle for a series split after taking the first two games.

Mandy Bell is an associate reporter for MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles, Francisco Pena