BOSTON, AUG. 21 -- The once-a-week offense of the Baltimore Orioles made a much-needed appearance at Fenway Park tonight, and a season that seemed very gloomy and rather close to done as the day began suddenly brightened and lengthened a bit.

The Orioles brushed off the dust that had collected on their bats of late and amassed nine hits and nine runs in the first three innings against the Boston Red Sox, cruising to a 9-5 victory before 35,022. It reinvigorated Baltimore's recently sagging hopes to hang in contention in the American League East.

The Orioles had scored 12 runs in their previous seven games, but got six in the first two innings off Dana Kiecker and reliever Dennis Lamp. A four-run first inning bettered the Orioles' output in any game since they battered California's Mark Langston en route to 11 runs and 16 hits nine days ago.

Eight Orioles had hits and five Orioles had RBI within the first three innings. Beleaguered batting coach Tom McCraw had spent his pregame moments pleading that "someone, anyone, has to step forward." Manager Frank Robinson joked about the "offensive juggernaut I have here." They couldn't imagine what havoc was on tap.

Steve Finley had three of the Orioles' 14 hits. Joe Orsulak, Mickey Tettleton and Tim Hulett had two apiece. Finley entered the night in a two-for-11 slide. Orsulak had three hits in his past 25 at-bats, Hulett two for his past 20 and Tettleton six for 40.

"I hope it's a beginning," Robinson said. "I hope it carries over and it continues for them. . . .We were bound to turn it around eventually. It's the law of averages."

Boston's attack wasn't shabby either, as the Red Sox totaled 13 hits and repeated threats. Mike Marshall produced his first Red Sox home run and Boston's first homer in eight games and 284 at-bats -- its longest drought in 16 years -- with an eighth-inning drive to straightaway center off Joe Price that capped the scoring.

It wasn't enough to compensate for Kiecker, who had pitched at least into the sixth inning in each of his previous seven starts but lasted just five batters and no outs tonight. He issued three hits and two walks, and four of those runners scored.

"It was pretty awful," Kiecker said. "Who knows what the score would've been if {Manager Joe Morgan} had left me out there . . ."

Lamp wasn't much better, yielding five hits and five runs in two innings. Boston later treated John Mitchell (6-5) almost as rudely, but the Orioles by then had accumulated a lead they couldn't squander. Two more former members of the Boston organization -- Price and Curt Schilling -- followed Mitchell to the mound, and Gregg Olson got the final two outs for his 29th save.

The win was Baltimore's second in seven games and fifth in 15, yet the Orioles remained the lone AL East team playing above .500 since the all-star break. At 58-63, they're seven games behind the front-running Red Sox. Boston lost for just the second time in 12 Fenway games but remained a game ahead of second-place Toronto.

The Orioles will have rookie sensation Ben McDonald on the mound for Wednesday afternoon's getaway game, and play 22 of the following 29 games at home. Ten meetings with Boston and Toronto remain.

This was just the Orioles' fourth win in their past 25 Fenway Park contests, and their second victory in nine games against the 1990 Red Sox. Tonight "was a must-win, just like {Wednesday} is a must-win" game, Robinson said. "It's very important for us to come here and win two out of three."

Mitchell persevered through a laborious 122 pitches and a 6 2/3-inning, 11-hit, four-run performance. He continued to enjoy phenomenal support -- the Orioles have scored 39 runs in his last five starts.

Given the fat cushion, Mitchell still managed to make matters interesting. He yielded a second-inning run on singles by Ellis Burks and Mike Greenwell and the first of three errors by Orioles outfielders that had Robinson perplexed and upset -- a misplay in right field by Finley.

In a ragged fifth, Mitchell surrendered six hits and watched as Mike Devereaux botched two straight plays in center field to help Boston cut a 9-1 deficit to 9-4 and threaten for more. Robinson already had removed four starters when designated hitter Marshall -- in his second game for the Red Sox -- rapped a sharp liner with two out and the bases full that second baseman Rene Gonzales short-hopped and turned into a rally-killing forceout.

"I was bad on a good night," Mitchell said. "I got away with four runs on a night when we got nine. . . . I knew Marshall would line out. I was due for some good luck that inning."

The Orioles' good fortune began when Kiecker (4-6) wrapped walks to Brady Anderson and Cal Ripken around a Finley single to begin the game. Sam Horn delivered an RBI single, then Orsulak a two-run base hit for a 3-0 lead. It became 4-0 on Tettleton's double-play grounder that greeted Lamp.

The Orioles added two runs in the second on Bill Ripken's double, Anderson's RBI single and second baseman Jody Reed's throwing error. It went to 9-1 in the third on singles by Orsulak and Tettleton, Hulett's double, a walk to Bill Ripken and Anderson's single.