BALTIMORE — Last season, the Baltimore Orioles and Boston Red Sox played four extra-inning games against each other, including games of 17, 13 and 12 innings.
The Orioles won all four of those games, mainly because their bullpen kept throwing scoreless innings until the bats could do their job — except for that 17-inning game last May in Boston, when Baltimore needed a little help from Chris Davis on the mound.
This time, Davis helped out in a more customary fashion, with his bat, hitting a game-winning single with two outs in the bottom of the 13th inning to give the Orioles a 5-4 win over the Red Sox on Thursday night at Camden Yards to end a 4-hour 35-minute marathon.
Not only did Baltimore (38-29) move within 21 / 2 games of American League East-leading Boston in the opener of the four-game series, but they also moved into second place after the New York Yankees’ 3-2, 18-inning loss in Oakland.
“I think we have a newfound confidence,” Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said. “We know that this division is going to be tough. We were cellar dwellars for some years, and now we just want to come out and give it our all every day, especially against the division.”
Baltimore beat Boston for the 12th time in 16 meetings.
The Orioles used seven pitchers, and the final five combined to throw 61 / 3 scoreless innings, retiring the final 10 hitters they faced and 18 of 19. Perhaps more important will be the carry-over through the rest of the series as both bullpens were drained.
Before scoring the winning run, Baltimore stranded 14 base runners, including five in scoring position, and was 3 for 12 with runners in scoring position.
But Nick Markakis drew a two-out walk in the 13th, then moved to second on Jones’s opposite-field single to right. That set the stage for Davis, who had struck out in three of his previous four at-bats. He lofted a 1-1 fastball from Alex Wilson for a game-winning single in front of Jonny Gomes in left to win it.
“It was a lot of fun, Davis said. “Obviously both teams were battling out there to get a run and both bullpens [were] pretty stout late in the game.
“I took a few swings late in the game where I was just swinging way too hard, trying to win it with one swing instead of just trying to put the ball in play. Good things happen when you simplify it.”
The bullpen kept Baltimore in the game. Tommy Hunter retired all six batters he faced through the eighth and ninth and Darren O’Day tossed a scoreless 10th, striking out Shane Victorino on a 3-2 pitch to strand the go-ahead run at second base.
Jim Johnson needed just 10 pitches to retire the Red Sox in order in the 12th and T.J. McFarland threw a scoreless 13th to earn his first major league win.