Baseball / Sports

Cruz stars in Orioles' 7-4, comeback victory vs. Boston

BOSTON --When Ubaldo Jimenez walked off the mound in the fourth inning in the nightcap of the Baltimore Orioles' split doubleheader Saturday night, a split of their twin bill against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park seemed unlikely.

They already had dropped the first game Saturday, wasting right-hander Miguel Gonzalez's deepest start of the season and losing in walk-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth inning. Jimenez's short start didn't help the Orioles' cause in Game 2.

But these newly minted, first-place Orioles proved resilient, coming from behind to score five unanswered runs on their way to a 7-4 victory.

Nelson Cruz recorded a career-high five hits in the win and tied Chicago's Jose Abreu for the major league lead with his 27th homer of the season. Cruz fell just short of hitting for the cycle, thrown out at third base trying to leg out a triple in his final at-bat.

Trailing 4-3 heading into the sixth inning, the Orioles batted around and plated four runs in the frame. Steve Pearce tied the game with an RBI single to center field, the first of three straight run-scoring singles off Boston reliever Burke Badenhop.

Adam Jones and Cruz followed with RBI singles of their own, and the Orioles scored a fourth run on J.J. Hardy's forceout grounder to third with the bases loaded.

The Orioles (47-40) got home runs from catcher Nick Hundley and Cruz, the seventh time in nine games the Orioles have had multiple homers. Hundley hit a two-run shot in the fourth to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead, and Cruz hit a solo blast in the fifth that cleared the Green Monster in left.

Cruz's five-hit game was the Orioles' first in a nine-inning game since Nick Markakis had five July 3, 2011, against the Atlanta Braves. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy had five hits in a 17-inning game in Boston on May 6, 2012.

Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew, who hadn't hit a home run in his previous 66 at-bats and was hitting .136, hit homers in both games, including a two-run shot in the nightcap that fueled a four-run fourth inning against Jimenez.

Jimenez struggled through his second shortest start of the season, lasting just 3 2/3 innings, and allowed four hits on five runs.

His six walks tied a season high, but he didn't allow a hit until the fifth. The first hit he allowed was Drew's two-run homer to right field, which came after Jimenez issued a leadoff walk to Mike Napoli.

After Jimenez struck out Jonny Gomes, four consecutive Red Sox batters had hits, including a run-scoring, two-out double by Brock Holt and Daniel Nava's subsequent RBI single.

Jimenez has struggled mightily against the Red Sox, going 1-4 with a 9.37 ERA in seven career starts. He also has issued five or more walks in five of his past six starts.

Red Sox starter John Lackey recorded 11 strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings and left the game leading 4-3 with two on and one out before Pearce tied the game with his RBI single.

Once Jimenez was chased from the game in the fourth, the Orioles' bullpen kept the Red Sox (39-48) in check -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter had saved most of his relievers for the nightcap -- as five relievers combined for 5 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit along the way.

Right-hander Brad Brach, the right-handed long-relief arm brought in to replace Jimenez, earned the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, and left-handed Zach Britton tossed a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 15 opportunities.

The Orioles lost the first game of the day, 3-2, a defeat that ended their four-game winning streak on pinch hitter Jonathan Herrera's walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth.

Gonzalez had arguably his best start of the season in the day game, tying his career high by going eight innings and allowing just two runs over seven hits -- that after needing 43 pitches to get through his first two innings of work.

Left-hander T.J. McFarland, who allowed just one run over 15 2/3 innings in the month of June, allowed the game-winning, broken-bat single to Herrera with one out in the ninth.

As Herrera swung at a 1-0 fastball, the barrel of his bat twirled one way as the ball looped just over second baseman Jonathan Schoop's glove and into shallow right-center field to score Jonny Gomes from second.

"What are you going to do?" Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "I was real proud of the pitchers today, especially Miggy."

The Red Sox by no means battered McFarland. Brought into the game in the ninth to face two left-handed batters due up that inning, he ended up facing three right-handers. Gomes, a pinch hitter, opened the inning with an infield single that J.J. Hardy backhanded deep in the hole at shortstop but couldn't get to first in time.

David Ross then dropped a bunt that catcher Caleb Joseph corralled and considered throwing to second, but settled for the play at first and the sure out.

Herrera, a switch hitter, then sent the Orioles off the field with his walk-off hit. Adam Jones' throw home was high and wide as Gomes slid home into a Red Sox celebration at home plate.

The Orioles scored just two unearned runs off Boston left-hander Jon Lester in eight innings, managing five hits overall. They went quietly in the top of the ninth as former Oriole Koji Uehara struck out Jones and Chris Davis in a perfect frame.

Gonzalez kept the Boston bats at bay throughout the afternoon. After allowing two runs in the second inning, Gonzalez retired 14 of the next 15 batters he faced.

As Gonzalez's pitch count crept toward triple digits, Showalter stuck with Gonzalez in the eighth, and the right-hander stranded two runners in scoring position after throwing his season-high 113th pitch of the day, one shy of his career high. His eight innings tied a career high, last accomplished on June 11, 2013, against the Los Angeles Angels.

Gonzalez entered the eight having allowed just two singles since the second inning, but hit Dustin Pedroia with a pitch and walked Mike Napoli with one out. He induced a pop-up in foul ground from A.J. Pierzynski for the second out, but a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position.

Gonzalez struck out Xander Bogaerts looking on a 2-2 split-finger fastball to end the inning.

"That's the kind of Miggy we're going to need," Showalter said. "He was solid. I thought he deserved a chance to finish off that eighth inning. He had some real low-duress innings. He was solid."

Gonzalez has posted quality starts in all four of his career starts against the Red Sox and is 3-0 with a 2.90 ERA in six career appearances against Boston.

"(I was) under control a little bit more," Gonzalez said. "I told myself not to do too much, stay aggressive, down in the zone, especially against a team like this that has a good lineup. We came up a little short. T.J.'s been throwing the ball really well. You can't do anything about that. It's baseball."

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