Boston looks to return home with no worse than a share of the top spot in the division when it completes a three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
The Red Sox fell out of first place earlier this week for the first time in more than two months, but regained a share of the top spot with a 4-3 victory Sunday. The Yankees’ 7-4 loss to Toronto earlier in the day was just their second defeat in 13 games.
After Sunday, Boston returns to Fenway Park for its final seven games—four against Toronto and three with the Yankees next weekend. The Red Sox own the best home record in the majors (50-24), and are vying for their first division crown since 1995. The defending World Series champions have finished second in the East to the Yankees in each of the previous seven seasons.
New York concludes a three-game series against Toronto on Sunday and visits Baltimore for four games before facing the Red Sox. If the teams are tied following their big weekend set at Fenway, there will be a one-game playoff for the division title next Monday at Yankee Stadium.
Edgar Renteria delivered the big hit Saturday, as his broken-bat single in the ninth inning snapped a tie and gave Boston a 4-2 lead.
“Edgar found a way to get the ball where nobody was standing. We had the lead, lost it, got it back,” Boston’s Kevin Millar said. “That’s what made this game special. We got big hit after big hit.”
“I made it interesting again,” Timlin said, “but what’s important is that we were one up at the end. This is what we do.”
Boston hopes David Wells fares better Sunday than he did in his last outing.
The veteran left-hander had his worst start in four months at Tampa Bay on Monday, but did not factor in the decision as the Red Sox suffered an 8-7 loss. He lasted 2 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and 10 hits while matching a season high with two walks.
Wells, who had a cortisone shot in his right knee following his last start, has won four of his last five decisions and has surrendered only two home runs in his past six starts, spanning 29 1-3 innings.
Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven straight. Baltimore stranded 11 runners, twice leaving the bases loaded and twice failing to bring home runners from second and third.
“We hit a couple of bullets and then they break a bat in half and win,” Baltimore interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. “When you’re going good, those things happen. When you’re going bad, those bullets we hit are right at somebody.”
One way or another, the Orioles will have something to say about who wins the East, but they haven’t been much of a factor so far, losing four straight at Yankee Stadium this week and two in a row to the Red Sox.