Series split: Rio Ruiz gets clutch hits as O's beat Boston

In the first two innings today, the Orioles had numerous chances to score against Boston right-hander Zack Godley. But they went 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded five runners. They got leadoff doubles each inning, but the clutch hit didn't come.

The question that s the game went on: Would the early failures come back to bite them later?

Not today. Third baseman Rio Ruiz, who had been struggling recently and began today batting .050 with runners in scoring, came up with two huge hits as the Orioles beat Boston 5-4.

The Birds get back to .500 at 14-14 and split this four-game series after losing the first two games. Boston falls to 3-4 versus the Orioles and to 9-20 for the season.

Ruiz-AB-White-Front-sidebar.jpgThe first clutch hit finally came when they knocked Godley out during a three-run third. He walked three batters that inning and five in 2 2/3 innings before lefty Jeffrey Springs replaced him in the third. It was a lefty-lefty matchup against Ruiz with the bases loaded. To that point, Ruiz had been 1-for-20 this year with seven strikeouts with runners in scoring position after batting .306 in such chances last year. Ruiz was also batting just .111 (3-for-27) over his past nine games.

But this time, Ruiz worked the count full and then lined a two-run single to right on a 3-2 pitch. That was big. If the Red Sox get Ruiz there, the Orioles would have scored no runs with eight left on base through three innings. Ninth-place hitter Andrew Velazquez then dropped a beautiful bunt toward third that scored Ryan Mountcastle from third for a 3-1 lead.

In the Baltimore seventh, Ruiz came up big with two outs and two on in scoring position. He doubled to deep left to score both runners and give the O's some breathing room and a 5-2 lead.

Ruiz, who began the game batting .197, went 2-for-4 today with RISP. He had a four-RBI day after going seven games without an RBI.

O's starter Wade LeBlanc left today's game after facing four batters with left elbow discomfort. He gave up a leadoff homer to Kevin Pillar on the game's second pitch. Pillar's first career leadoff homer made it 1-0 Boston.

But right-hander Thomas Eshelman, who replaced LeBlanc, pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings without allowing a hit in a strong long relief outing. Boston batters went 0-for-13 against him. He walked the first batter he faced in the first and then retired 13 in a row through the top of the fifth.

Anthony Santander doubled in the fourth today to extend his hitting streak to 18 games. It was the fifth game in a row he extended the streak with a single hit. This is the longest hitting streak by an Oriole since Nick Markakis hit in 18 a row from April 21 to May 11, 2014.

There was a concerning moment for the Orioles in the seventh when Pedro Severino lined a single to center but was running gingerly up the line. He left the game with right hip flexor tightness.

Jackie Bradley Jr. hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Tanner Scott and that pulled Boston within 5-4. But Scott got the last out to record his first career save.

The O's went 3-7 on this homestand and are 6-13 at home for the season. They improved to 7-8 in the American League East, 6-2 in day games and split a series for the first time in 2020. They are 4-4-1 in their nine series. The Birds are off tomorrow and begin a road trip in St. Petersburg, Fla., against Tampa Bay on Tuesday night.

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