BOSTON - The Orioles could have run themselves out of a big inning in the top of the fourth. A baserunning blunder could have bitten them, could have come back to haunt them, could have brought the same level of regret as a few 2 a.m. bar decisions.
But not when you’re going good.
Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds walked in the fourth. With one out, Nick Johnson drove a ball over center fielder Marlon Byrd’s head, but Wieters held at third base. Reynolds had to slam on the brakes at second, which caused a traffic jam with Johnson barreling down on him.
Johnson was credited with a single and was out 8-6-3, leaving runners on second and third, and leaving Boston starter Clay Buchholz close to executing a great escape. But Robert Andino followed with his second home run of the season, a three-run shot that increased the Orioles’ lead to 5-0.
That’s how you make up for a mistake.
Back-to-back singles by Ryan Flaherty and J.J. Hardy drove Buchholz from the game. The crowd cheered manager Bobby Valentine as he emerged from the dugout, but the sarcasm was dripping so heavily, I thought the grounds crew would have to unroll the tarp.
Boston got a run back in the fourth on a leadoff double by Mike Aviles - the first ball to leave the infield against Tommy Hunter - and Ryan Sweeney’s single.
Chris Davis is 0-for-3 with three strikeouts.
I told you earlier that a victory today would give the Orioles their first three-game sweep at Fenway Park since June 10-12, 1994. The winning pitchers were Mike Oquist, Mike Mussina and Ben McDonald.
Oquist gave up one run in 3 2/3 innings after relieving Jamie Moyer.
Update: It’s no longer going good.
The Red Sox loaded the bases with no outs in the fifth and Will Middlebrooks hit his first career homer, a grand slam that tied the game, 5-5.
Byrd followed with a single as Luis Ayala began to warm in the bullpen.
Middlebrooks’ homer came immediately after pitching coach Rick Adair visited the mound.
Update II: Hunter goes 4 1/3 innings, the shortest outing by an Orioles starter since Brian Matusz lasted four innings April 9 against the Yankees.
Hunter is charged with five runs and eight hits, with one walk and two strikeouts. He threw 82 pitches, 54 for strikes. He’s allowed nine homers in 36 innings this season.
Hunter was bothered by lower back stiffness in spring training. Manager Buck Showalter told reporters before today’s game that Hunter no longer receives treatment on his back.
Maybe we’ll find out later whether Hunter’s back was an issue today.