BOSTON--Winning two of three games this weekend at Fenway Park wasn't easy, but the Baltimore Orioles had reason to celebrate after surviving their series finale Sunday afternoon with a 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox in 12 innings.
The unsung hero of both of their wins this weekend might have been right-handed reliever Brad Brach, who tossed three scoreless innings Sunday in a tied game, keeping the Boston hitters at bay until the Orioles offense could rally.
And that happened in the top of the 12th, when left fielder David Lough--who entered in the bottom of the seventh as a defensive replacement when the Orioles held a seemingly comfortable four-run lead--opened the inning with a triple that rolled to the warning track in center field in the deepest part of the ballpark.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy then hit a run-scoring single to left field past a drawn-in infield to score the Orioles' first run since the seventh inning.
Left-hander Zach Britton then closed the door on the Red Sox in the bottom of the 12th, ending a 5-hour, 5-minute marathon--and the 30th inning between the two teams in the past two days--with his 14th save in 16 opportunities.
With the win, the Orioles (48-40) are a season-high eight games above .500 and remained atop the American League East standings. The Orioles won the series in Boston, and they now have won 18 of their last 27 games at Fenway Park. The Orioles have won six of their last seven games overall and are now 24-17 against divisional opponents this year.
Brach (4-0) allowed just two base runners--one hit and one walk--in three shutout innings. He struck out four batters and threw 45 pitches one day after he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in their 7-4 doubleheader nightcap win when starter Ubaldo Jimenez lasted just 3 2/3 innings.
Brach has earned the win in four of his last seven appearances and has thrown 12 straight scoreless innings over that span. He quieted the Red Sox offensively after they rallied from a 6-1 deficit with a five-run seventh inning.
Lough, whose triple was his first extra-base hit in a month--he homered against the Oakland Athletics on June 7 -- also threw out David Ortiz trying to stretch a single into a double in the bottom of the 12th.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman had held the Red Sox scoreless for five innings and departed with one out in the sixth, leaving the game to the Orioles bullpen.
After the Orioles chased Red Sox starter Jake Peavy from the game after six innings, the Red Sox (39-49) battered four Orioles relief pitchers for five runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Gausman allowed one run and four hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked two, but his afternoon ended after he threw 104 pitches following some deep counts.
Gausman, who retired the first eight hitters he faced, stranded two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning with one out--Dustin Pedroia singled and David Ortiz doubled--by striking out Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew on several fastballs that were clocked between 97 to 100 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Gausman, who has spent most of the past two weeks between the Orioles and the minor leagues because he is one of the club's few optionable pitchers, has allowed one run or less in four of his last five starts, pitching to a 2.45 ERA over that span.
Nelson Cruz opened the fourth inning by hitting a ball high off the Green Monster in left field. Cruz was initially called out at second base, but after the Orioles challenged the call, replays showed that he avoided Pedroia's tag with his left hand and reached the base with his right hand.
Cruz then scored when Red Sox third baseman Xander Bogaerts' throw to first base on Delmon Young's ground ball sailed into the seats.
After loading the bases in the sixth with one out, the Orioles were only able to score one run in the inning on Caleb Joseph's sacrifice fly.
Gausman left the game with runners at the corners in the sixth and Ortiz's RBI single off T.J. McFarland cut the Orioles' lead to 2-1.
The Orioles scored four runs in top of the seventh, which opened which three straight singles from Steve Pearce, Adam Jones and Cruz off Red Sox reliever Burke Badenhop. Cruz's single knocked in Pearce.
Two batters later, Hardy hit a two-run single to right field, and Ryan Flaherty's RBI single gave the Orioles a 6-1 lead. Manny Machado was thrown out at home plate by Boston center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. to end the inning after Joseph flied out.
But the Red Sox rallied for five runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning off four Orioles relievers. Boston sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning, recording seven hits.
The rally was ignited from the bottom half of the lineup as the Red Sox chipped away at the Orioles' lead. David Ross hit a one-out solo homer to center field off McFarland.
After Bradley singled and right-hander Ryan Webb replaced McFarland, Bogaerts--the No. 9 hitter--drove Bradley in with a long single that hit off the wall in left field.
Brock Holt then singled to put runners at the corners, and Daniel Nava singled up the middle just past Webb's outstretched glove to cut the lead to 6-4.
Brian Matusz entered to face Ortiz. Ortiz singled past a diving Pearce at first base to score Holt, giving Ortiz just his second hit against Matusz in 23 career at-bats. Tommy Hunter then yielded a single to right field to Napoli to score Nava and tie the game.
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