The skid, which included Friday’s series-opening 2-1 loss, has taken away most of the momentum Boston built by taking two of three from the AL East-leading New York Yankees at Fenway Park last weekend.
Boston moved within 1 1/2 games of first place Sunday, but has gone just 1-3 since.
On Thursday, shortly before the non-waiver trading deadline, the Red Sox added right-hander Jeff Suppan to their staff. General manager Theo Epstein has also acquired Byung-Hyun Kim, Todd Jones, Scott Sauerbeck and Scott Williamson, transforming Boston’s bullpen from a weak link to a legitimate strength.
“Theo is getting a lot of positive things said about him, and he should,” said Red Sox right-hander Derek Lowe, who starts Saturday. “He did a fantastic job. He gave us a chance. These are the best acquisitions that we’ve gotten as a whole since I’ve been here.
“Normally you could say the Williamsons and the Scott Sauerbecks, they normally go to New York. They don’t normally go to Boston. I think that’s the biggest thing this year—the guys New York wanted, we got them instead.”
However, Boston’s offense has been sputtering. The Red Sox, who own a major league-best .293 batting average, have managed just six runs during their three-game slide.
STANDINGS (through July 31): Red Sox - 2nd place, 3 1/2 GB, AL East. Orioles - 4th place, 15 1/2 GB, AL East.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Lowe (11-4, 4.84 ERA). On Sunday, Lowe gave up three earned runs and nine hits in six innings, but did not receive a decision in Boston’s 6-4 win over New York. In 25 career appearances, including seven starts, against the Orioles, he is 5-4 with a 2.77 ERA. On April 13, Lowe gave up five hits in seven shutout innings of a 2-0 win over Baltimore—his only appearance against them this season.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Rodrigo Lopez (3-6, 6.02 ERA). Lopez gave up a season high-tying eight earned runs and eight hits in 3 2-3 innings of Sunday’s 10-1 loss to Toronto. He is 0-2 with an 8.18 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox this season. In seven career appearances, including six starts, against Boston, Lopez is 4-2 with a 4.05 ERA.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Bill Mueller, .328 avg.; Manny Ramirez, 25 HRs and 79 RBIs; Nomar Garciaparra, 85 runs; Johnny Damon, 20 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .325 avg.; Tony Batista, 19 HRs; Jeff Conine, 75 RBIs and 64 runs; Brian Roberts, 17 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Tied, 3-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - RHP Williamson, who joined the Red Sox in Baltimore after being acquired from the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday, pitched a scoreless inning Friday in his Boston debut. … The Red Sox optioned RHP Jason Shiell to Triple-A Pawtucket to make room for RHP Williamson. … Manager Grady Little said RHP Ramiro Mendoza, moved out of the rotation following a disappointing start Wednesday, could be available out of the bullpen as early as Friday. Orioles - LF Melvin Mora missed a fourth straight start Friday with a sore wrist. … RF Gibbons is 8-for-17 (.471) over his last four games. … RHP Willis Roberts, who has a sprained right elbow ligament, was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list to make room on the 40-man roster for RHP Kurt Ainsworth. Ainsworth, acquired on Thursday as part of a trade that sent RHP Sidney Ponson to the San Francisco Giants, was placed on the 15-day DL with a fractured shoulder blade.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 28-29 on the road; Orioles - 28-24 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - RHP Brandon Lyon (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL. Orioles - IF David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; OF B.J. Surhoff (quadriceps), 15-day DL; RHP Ainsworth (shoulder blade), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 15-day DL; LHP Erik Bedard (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Scott Erickson (shoulder), 60-day DL; RHP Roberts (knee), 60-day DL; 2B Jerry Hairston Jr. (foot), 60-day DL; OF Albert Belle (hip), 60-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 60-day DL.