BALTIMORE — Throughout the early season, Baltimore Orioles Manager Buck Showalter has talked about the gradual progression of lefty Brian Matusz, who has slowly been eradicating a disastrous 2011 campaign.
On Tuesday, it all came together for the 25-year-old Matusz in a 4-1 victory over Boston that marked the Orioles’ 10th win in their last 12 games against the Red Sox.
With the win, the Orioles snapped their two-game losing skid while halting the Red Sox’ three-game winning streak and dropping their American League East rival back under .500.
Matusz allowed just two hits and one run, a solo homer by Kevin Youkilis, in 61 / 3 splendid innings. Exhibiting impeccable control — he walked just one batter for the third consecutive start — Matusz (4-4) won for the fourth time in five games as he attempts to put 2011 and his 10.69 ERA far behind him.
Matusz struck out nine Red Sox hitters, tying his career high set on Oct. 2, 2010, against Detroit. Statistically, Tuesday’s gem was Matusz’s best since throwing seven innings of shutout ball against the Tampa Bay Rays on Sept. 27, 2010. It was the first time in his career that he has allowed three baserunners or fewer in a non-injury-shortened start.
When Matusz walked off the mound in the seventh after fanning Red Sox slugger Adrian Gonzalez on a nasty, where’d-it-go curveball, he received a standing ovation from much of the announced crowd of 25,171.
Again, Matusz didn’t get much run support — getting just two runs or fewer while he was in the game for the sixth time in nine starts.
Third baseman Steve Tolleson gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead in the second inning by depositing a Felix Doubront 92-mph fastball over the left-center wall. They were then held scoreless until the eighth when Wilson Betemit hit a two-run, two-out homer onto the flag court against former Oriole Matt Albers. It was Betemit’s seventh home run this season.
Tolleson’s was a little more special. It was his first as an Oriole and the second in his career. His previous homer came for Oakland on Sept. 26, 2010, versus Texas. After the game, Tolleson received a shaving cream pie in the face from Adam Jones.