David Ortiz sparked a dramatic comeback with a sixth-inning home run to help the Boston Red Sox beat the first-placed Baltimore Orioles 8-6 on Monday to get their record back on level terms for the first time in nearly a month.
Trailing 5-2 on the road, Ortiz blasted a solo homer to trigger Boston’s three-run sixth and the surging Red Sox added late runs to secure their ninth victory in 11 games.
Even without injured outfielders Cody Ross and Ryan Sweeney, Boston found a way to keep their run intact.
“We’re going to play hard every night,” infielder Dustin Pedroia told reporters after he finished two-for-four with two RBIs. “We have other guys that can step right in and perform well, and help us win a lot of games.”
Boston were in a tailspin at the beginning of the month, but they have now tied with the Yankees at 21-21, the first time the team have been .500 since April 30.
They trail Baltimore by five-and-a-half games.
The Orioles (27-16) scored four times in the third and Chris Davis homered in the fifth to give the home team early control, but the Red Sox rallied.
Adrian Gonzalez hit the go-ahead sacrifice fly in the seventh, where Will Middlebrooks had a run-scoring single, while Pedroia added an RBI in the eighth.
Middlebrooks finished with three hits.
It became a battle of the bullpens down the stretch, with Boston’s preserving the triumph. Clay Buchholz allowed five runs, but Andrew Miller came on in the sixth and tossed 1-2/3 scoreless innings to get the win.
The Red Sox battered Baltimore’s pitching for 14 hits, chasing starter Tommy Hunter after six innings. Reliever Kevin Gregg surrendered the two runs in the seventh to take the loss.
“The [sixth] inning was very frustrating,” Hunter said. “I left the ball up to Ortiz. It’s just one of those things.”
BLUE JAYS 6, RAYS 2
In St Petersburg, Florida, Toronto’s Kyle Drabek overcame command issues to win for the first time on the road this season, guiding the Blue Jays over the Tampa Bay Rays to close within a game of their American League East rivals.
Drabek (4-4), who entered 0-3 with a 5.23 ERA away from home, allowed three hits in six innings in a less-than-convincing performance.
Yunel Escobar put Toronto in front 3-2 on a solo homer off Jeremy Hellickson (4-1) in the sixth.
Monday’s other results:
‧ Mariners 6, Rangers 1
‧ Athletics 2, Angels 1
‧ Royals 6, Yankees 0
Gio Gonzalez allowed three hits over six shutout innings as Ian Desmond homered and drove in both Washington runs to lead the Nationals to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday.
Gonzalez (6-1), a former Phillies farmhand, struck out seven of the first nine batters and finished with nine strikeouts. That upped his total to 35 over his last four starts, all wins, in 25 innings.
Bryce Harper had two hits for Washington.
Sean Burnett came in with one out in the ninth after Nationals closer Henry Rodriguez allowed runners to reach second and third, and he escaped a jam to earn his second save.
MARLINS 7, ROCKIES 4
In Miami, Giancarlo Stanton hit a grand slam off Jamie Moyer in a five-run fourth inning, while Mark Buehrle was dominant after a shaky first as Miami beat Colorado.
Austin Kearns tied a career best with four hits for the Marlins.
Buehrle (4-4) worked 7-2/3 innings, giving up four runs and four hits in the first and one more hit the rest of the way. Heath Bell pitched the ninth for his sixth save in 10 chances.