O's rally before dropping heartbreaker in extras
Ortiz's 10th-inning HR prevents Baltimore from closing in on top seed
BALTIMORE -- Darren O'Day's mistake pitch in the 10th inning was a rare one in a critical spot for an Orioles' bullpen that's among the best in the Majors, and it was enough to hand the O's a rare extra-inning loss.
O'Day left an 88-mph fastball over the plate to David Ortiz, and there was never a doubt when the veteran designated hitter made contact. His second homer of the game was also the game-winner to beat the Orioles, 5-3, on Friday night. They remain 2 1/2 games behind the Angels for the best record in the American League.
"Ortiz is a pretty good hitter," manager Buck Showalter said. "I know it's a break from the level [O'day has] spoiled us at, but I hope that's our biggest issue going forward."
Ortiz tormented the 39,079 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards with a pair of solo homers over the towering right-field wall. With both teams playing with makeshift lineups, he was one of the few All-Stars on the field, and he delivered the sort of performance the AL East has grown accustomed to.
Ortiz launched his first homer off Kevin Gausman, who left after five with a blister on his right middle finger, to lead off the fourth inning. Yoenis Cespedes, an All-Star outfielder acquired at the Trade Deadline, made it back-to-back.
"I don't know that you can say enough positives and accolades for what David Ortiz not only did tonight, but what he's done over an incredible career," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "He comes up big twice for us again tonight, no bigger than in that 10th inning. I hate to think where we'd be without him."
Neither lineup came out resembling the ones that squared off back at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Opening Day. The last-place Red Sox had three of their original nine on Friday, while the AL East-champion Orioles had four.
Still, an Orioles lineup without J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis, who's still recovering after being hit by a pitch Tuesday, managed to survive the consecutive homers.
Traces of dirt still covered the front of Nelson Cruz's jersey as he stood in the on-deck circle with Steve Pearce at the plate and the tying run on third base in the seventh inning. Four innings earlier, he covered himself in stains as he tumbled past first base to beat out a run-scoring infield single that gave the O's a 1-0 lead.
Pearce bounced a chopper to the shortstop and hustled down the line. Xander Bogaerts' throw brought Allen Craig off the bag. Pearce leaned to the right and contorted his body to sneak under Craig's tag. Delmon Young crossed home plate to tie the game at 3.
Both teams took advantage of errors -- Boston scored its third run on a Caleb Joseph error -- but Baltimore left more on the table.
In the fifth inning, Alejandro De Aza launched a one-out double off the right-field scoreboard. David Lough followed with a single to center, and third-base coach Bobby Dickerson's right arm became a windmill. As De Aza rounded third, the ball was out of Rusney Castillo's hand and on its way to home, denying Baltimore a run.
"That's the first time I've seen him play, and things are gonna happen, you know?" said De Aza, who collected three hits on the night. "Sometimes you're gonna make a bad throw even if you have a good arm. It's not every time he's gonna throw accurate."
Even so, the Orioles got to the back of their bullpen with a chance to win, and when that happens, they often do. Andrew Miller worked around an error and an inherited runner for a scoreless eighth. Zach Britton set Boston down in order for a clean ninth.
After Baltimore faltered against Junichi Tazawa (4-3) in the ninth, O'Day (5-2) came in to pitch the 10th. After an error by third baseman Kelly Johnson, O'Day surrendered his third home run in his last eight appearances. The Orioles fell to 14-6 in extras and dropped the opener of a three-game set in Baltimore.
"Darren's fine," Showalter said. "[Ortiz has] hit a few off some other good pitchers, too."