Playing their best baseball of the season, the Baltimore Orioles look to complete their first three-game home sweep of the Boston Red Sox in nearly 30 years as the teams complete a weekend series at Camden Yards.
The Orioles haven’t enjoyed a three-game sweep against Boston in Baltimore since September 1974. Baltimore, which is just 31-47 against Boston at Camden Yards since it opened in 1992, dropped two of three to the Red Sox at home in the first week of the season.
However, the Orioles have won eight straight at home, including Saturday’s 11-2 win as Luis Matos homered to cap a seven-run sixth inning for Baltimore.
Baltimore had lost four of six heading into the break.
“This game’s amazing,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. “It’s a crazy game.”
The Red Sox have dropped four straight, one short of their season high, to slip 4 1/2 games behind the AL East-leading New York Yankees.
Nomar Garciaparra homered for Boston, which has been outscored 29-8 during its current skid.
“Everyone’s got to contribute, but the key is for each one not to be trying to be the one,” Red Sox manager Grady Little said. “They have to do it collectively and not try to do too much at this point.”
STANDINGS: Red Sox - 2nd place, 4 1/2 GB, AL East. Orioles - 4th place, 14 1/2 GB, AL East.
RED SOX PROBABLE STARTER: Tim Wakefield (8-5, 4.16 ERA). Wakefield has won two straight, including Tuesday’s 14-7 victory over Texas. The veteran knuckleballer allowed four runs—two earned—and six hits over six innings, striking out a season high-tying eight and walking two. In 28 career appearances against Baltimore, including 15 starts, Wakefield is 8-8 with one complete game, four saves and a 3.69 ERA.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Rick Helling (6-7, 5.47 ERA). Helling is 0-1 with a 4.69 ERA over his last three starts and hasn’t won since a 7-2 victory over Seattle on July 9. The veteran right-hander receive a decision in Baltimore’s 7-5 win over Minnesota on Tuesday, allowing four runs and seven hits over six innings. He struck out four and walked one. Helling is 6-3 with a 4.83 ERA in 14 career appearances against Boston, including 14 starts.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Red Sox - Bill Mueller, .328 avg.; Manny Ramirez, 25 HRs and 79 RBIs; Garciaparra, 86 runs; Johnny Damon, 21 SBs. Orioles - Melvin Mora, .325 avg.; Tony Batista, 19 HRs; Jeff Conine and Gibbons, 75 RBIs; Conine, 67 runs; Brian Roberts, 17 SBs.
SEASON SERIES: Orioles, 4-3.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Red Sox - 2B Todd Walker is hitting .375 with a double, a triple, two homers and five RBIs in 16 career at-bats against RHP Helling. … OF Damon is batting .370 (30-for-81) in his last 19 games. … 3B Mueller was not in the starting lineup Saturday after having a wisdom tooth extracted Friday. Mueller, who also sat out Friday’s game, is day-to-day but is available to pinch-hit. Orioles - C Brook Fordyce is hitting .455 with a double, two homers and five RBIS in 11 career at-bats against RHP Wakefield. … LF Mora missed a fifth straight start with a hand injury. His status for Sunday’s game is uncertain. … LHP Damian Moss, acquired from San Francisco in the trade deadline deal for RHP Sidney Ponson, will make his debut with the Orioles on Monday against Minnesota.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Red Sox - 28-30 on the road; Orioles - 29-24 at home.
INJURIES: Red Sox - 3B Mueller (mouth), day-to-day; RHP Brandon Lyon (elbow), 15-day DL; RHP Robert Person (hip), 15-day DL. Orioles - 1B David Segui (wrist), 15-day DL; OF B.J. Surhoff (quadriceps), 15-day DL; RHP Kurt Ainsworth (shoulder), 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 Willis 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.