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BOSTON—The Orioles have played clean, crisp and exciting ball on their way to 90 wins. The 90th was much less artful as the Orioles slogged to a 13-12 win over the Boston Red Sox before an announced crowd of 34,615 at Fenway Park on Saturday.
The game began after a rain delay of an hour, 32 minutes, and it devolved quickly.
The Orioles allowed 23 hits, the most any major league team has allowed in a nine-inning win since June 3rd,1930, according to Sarah Langs of MLB.com.
“It was one of those days,” catcher James McCann said. “It was like a heavyweight boxing match. Every time we threw up some runs, they found a way.”
Jack Flaherty, whom the Orioles had hoped would provide a solid starter with late-season and postseason experience, was staked to a 7-2 lead but couldn’t finish the fourth inning.
The Orioles, who began the game with 53 errors, fewest in the major leagues, committed two errors for the first time since August 2nd.
There were some standout performers for the Orioles (90-51), who won for the seventh straight time and maintain a four-game lead over Tampa Bay in the American League East. The Rays beat Seattle, 7-5.
The Orioles’ magic number for clinching their first postseason berth since 2016 is six.
They hit five home runs and scored 10 of their 12 runs on homers. McCann hit two, a two-run home run in the fifth and another in the sixth, following Jordan Westburg’s third.
“I feel like it’s always like this here. It’s such a tough team to pitch to,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Tonight wasn’t our best night on the mound or defensively. Give our guys credit. That was a straight, grind-it-out, gut check win. Loved how our offense kept producing. We got some big outs on the mound, too, in big spots.”
It was the second multi-home run game of McCann’s career. The previous one came three years ago, on September 9th, 2020 when he was with the Chicago White Sox.
“We had the advantage of the homers, and they found a way to shoot balls the other way, find broken-bat base hits, find holes, infield singles, you name it,” McCann said.
Westburg had a single, double and home run. He was removed after seven innings.
“Everybody’s got little things going on now,” Hyde said. “I hope he’s available tomorrow.”
Aaron Hicks had his first three-hit game with the Orioles, scored three runs and hit a three-run home run.
When Hicks hit his eighth home run in the third against Red Sox starter Chris Sale (6-4), he stood at home plate and admired it. Even though he’s played 40 games at Fenway, most with the New York Yankees, the home run was just the fifth he’s hit here, and he entered the game with a .203 lifetime average in Boston.
“I feel like every time I come here, it’s one of those games,” Hicks said. “A lot of runs and back-and-forth.”
Gunnar Henderson hit a three-run home run in the seventh, his 23rd, to give the Orioles a 12-6 lead.
Flaherty allowed five runs, four earned, on eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. With the Orioles, Flaherty’s ERA is 7.16 in six starts.
“It’s not that my line’s irrelevant, but we won the game,” Flaherty said. “We’re winning games. Our job is to go out and win games. In the next start, I need to do a better job of going deeper and making more pitches and executing … I can’t do any worse than the way things have gone.”
Cionel Pérez allowed an unearned run in an inning.
Shintaro Fujinami (7-8) was by far the most effective reliever, retiring each of the five batters he faced.
“Those were big innings that he picked up for us,” McCann said.
Fujinami artfully fielded Westburg’s throw at first on Alex Verdugo’s grounder to second to end the fifth with runners on second and third and the Orioles ahead, 7-6.
“That was a very athletic play. Him making that was a momentum shifter for us,” McCann said.
Jacob Webb, who came in with the Orioles ahead by six in the seventh, allowed three runs in the seventh, and Danny Coulombe, who came in to try to record the third out, allowed three straight singles. With the score 12-9, he finally got out of the inning and retired the first batter of the eighth.,
Jorge López allowed two hits and struck out two in the eighth.
Ramón Urías’ pinch-hit single in the ninth drove in the 13th run, one that proved to be crucial.
Yennier Cano allowed three runs in the ninth but retired Enmanuel Valdez on a fly ball to left to end the marathon.
“It wasn’t real comfortable. You never want to see them bring the tying run to the plate,” Hyde said.
Wilyer Abreu had five hits for Boston (72-70) in just his 12th major league game.
It was the Orioles’ longest nine-inning game of the season, three hours, 40 minutes.
“When you’re a team that’s scoring a lot of runs, it seems to go a lot faster,” Hicks said. “That was a fun game and very exciting.”
Notes: John Means threw a bullpen session before Saturday’s game. “It went well. It sounds like he threw the ball well and feels good,” Hyde said. “Besides that, no real update, and we’re just going to see where we go from here.” Hyde said it was possible Means could pitch during the series against the St. Louis Cardinals that begins Monday night. … Hyde said that closer Félix Bautista felt fine after playing catch before Friday’s game. … Delays for Orioles games this year are 18 hours, 43 minutes. … Grayson Rodriguez (5-3, 4.91) will face Brayan Bello (11-8, 3.61) on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. … Single-A Delmarva’s game with Fredericksburg was rained out and won’t be made up. The Shorebirds conclude their season on Sunday. … Catcher Samuel Basallo and second baseman Frederick Bencosme homered as High-A Aberdeen beat Greenville, 7-3.
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