By ANDRE KHATCHATURIAN
BOSTON – Red Sox fans have slowly gotten used to two things this year: Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s power and a bullpen that tends to collapse at the worst times.
They got a dosage of both on Tuesday night, when Saltalamacchia’s two-run game-tying home run proved useless after Alfredo Aceves (0-3) allowed two runs in the Top 10th to give the Baltimore Orioles 8-6 victory.
Saltalamacchia’s home run came in the bottom of the ninth with a runner on and two outs. The ball barely sailed above the green monster. Initially it looked as though a fan may have interfered with the ball reaching over the railing, but after review it was deemed a home run.
Jubilance would not last long though as Aceves gave up two RBI singles to Ronny Paulino and Endy Chavez in the top of the 10th.
Jim Johnson (1-0) came again in the bottom of the 10th after blowing the save an inning earlier and secured the win for the O’s.
The game was a pitching duel early on as Jason Hammel and Jon Lester battled hard for the first half of the ball game.
Hammel pitched five innings, allowed five hits, two runs, one earned run, and had seven strikeouts in a no decision. He lowered his season ERA to 2.97.
Lester, on the other hand, went six innings, allowed eight hits, four runs, all of them earned, and had five strikeouts.
After trailing for the first four innings, Boston tied up the ball game by runs scored on a fielder’s choice by Scott Podsednik and a sacrifice fly by Dustin Pedroia in the bottom of the fifth.
The Orioles regained the lead in the next inning with a sacrifice fly of their own by Steve Pearce.
In the next half inning, an RBI single by Mike Aviles and a sacrifice fly by Podsednik gave the Red Sox their first lead of the night. That didn’t last long though as Baltimore tacked on three runs on RBI singles by J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds, and Pearce off Lester and Scott Atchison.
Despite a total of 14 runs scored, both teams failed to capitalize on many opportunities with runners in scoring position. The Orioles left six men in scoring position with two outs while the Red Sox left five on board.
The two teams play again on Wednesday night in the second of three games at Fenway Park.