Jorge López clears fifth-inning hurdle and O’s beat Red Sox

He’s been pitching better lately and tonight Orioles right-hander Jorge López got past a big obstacle - the fifth inning.

Entering this outing tonight - his seventh of the 2021 season - López had an ERA of 3.00 when pitching in the first four innings of his starts. But his ERA in the fifth inning was 42.43. That is not good. He had allowed 11 earned runs over 2 1/3 innings. And opponents had eight hits in 14 at-bats, including three homers, against him in that inning.

But there he went tonight, into the unknown of the fifth in a 1-1 tie with Boston. In a game the Orioles could really use to both finally win again at home and not get swept four in a row.

Then Hunter Renfroe led off the Boston fifth with a double to right-center.

Uh-oh.

Lopez-Delivers-White-Sidebar.jpgBut it was not that. López got Franchy Cordero to ground to short with the runner advancing to third. He fanned Bobby Dalbec on a changeup. Then he threw a 96 mph fastball past Marwin Gonzalez and Boston could not score against him in the inning that had tormented him all year.

López got two more outs in the sixth and was pulled after allowing a Xander Bogaerts double. But when Tanner Scott fanned Rafael Devers, the inning ended and López had put together a real solid outing.

And the Orioles would get the much-needed win, beating Boston 4-1 to improve to 16-19 overall, 5-13 at home and 4-6 against Boston.

López gave up one run and four hits over 5 2/3 innings with no walks and five strikeouts. Boston batters, who began the night leading the majors in team batting average, slugging and OPS, went 4-for-20 against him.

Trey Mancini’s booming 440-foot homer to center in the sixth gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead. It came too late to get López a win, but the Orioles got one and López was a big reason why.

Over his last three starts - against the Yankees, Mariners and Red Sox - López has pitched to an ERA of 2.51. Over 14 1/3 innings, he has given up 11 hits and four runs.

More notes on the win:

* The Orioles snapped Boston’s six-game win streak against them. Boston had scored 48 runs in those games and scored 21 in the first three games of this series.

* The Orioles came up with a big insurance run in the eighth on Cedric Mullins bloop triple to left and Mancini’s RBI single. Mancini now has 11 RBIs in his last eight games and 14 RBIs over his last 11 games.

* Freddy Galvis went hitless and his 10-game hitting streak ended. He did drive in the fourth run with a sac fly.

* Boston falls to 22-14 overall, 12-5 on the road and 10-5 versus American League East foes. They had a four-game win streak snapped.

* The visiting team was 9-0 this year in Orioles-Boston games and had won 10 straight dating to last year until tonight’s result.

* Ryan Mountcastle and Mancini homered tonight. The Orioles have hit at least one homer in 11 straight games. They have 15 homers in this span.

* The Orioles are now 14-4 when scoring four or more runs.

* The O’s bullpen combined to throw 3 1/3 hitless and scoreless innings with no walks and six strikeouts. César Valdez got his eighth save.

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