BOSTON (AP)—The Boston Red Sox were stymied by six pitchers and stunned by their worst offense at home in a month.
“It’s definitely very surprising,” Johnny Damon said. “We expect to get hits. We expect to score a lot of runs.”
Instead, baseball’s top-hitting team lost to the Baltimore Orioles 7-3 Friday night, managing four hits and scoring fewer than seven runs at Fenway Park for the first time since Aug. 2.
“We had baserunners,” manager Terry Francona said. “It’s kind of a rarity when we don’t throw a bunch of hits up there.”
The Red Sox, who had won five in a row, got a single by Manny Ramirez and a two-run double by Jason Varitek in the first inning, then didn’t get another until Kevin Millar singled leading off the ninth. Damon also singled in the ninth for the last hit by Boston, which had scored seven runs or more at Fenway in 14 straight games.
“We’ve had a couple (pitchers) step in that hadn’t been doing well,” Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. “It seems like we need all of them to get through this lineup.”
The Orioles improved to 8-5 this year against the defending World Series champions, who are hitting .240 in those games, their lowest average this season against any AL team. In two of those wins, Baltimore allowed three and four hits. In its 133 games, Boston has had three hits just four times and four hits six times.
The Red Sox lead the majors with a .284 batting average and entered the game hitting .326 in their previous 20 home games, 19 of them wins.
John Olerud, who had two homers and six RBIs in a 7-4 win over Tampa Bay on Thursday night, went 0-for-3 on Friday.
Maine “had three pitches he was throwing that he looked like he had confidence to throw in any count,” Olerud said. “We really hit the ball a couple of times right at guys.”
Orioles fielders jumped and dived to catch several liners. Two Red Sox errors led to three unearned runs.
Boston reliever Keith Foulke pitched in the majors for the first time since July 4. Recovered from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee, Foulke gave up a single in the seventh and ended the inning by retiring Javy Lopez on a flyout.
“He got Javy, who had really been tough on him,” Francona said. “We got (his first outing) out of the way, which I think is necessary.”
Baltimore went ahead 3-2 in the second on an RBI single by Chris Gomez and a two-run double by Luis Matos. Alejandro Freire hit his first major league homer leading off the fourth, and the Orioles won their third straight after a 1-10 stretch.
Lenny DiNardo (0-1), recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket on Friday, started in place of David Wells, serving a six-game suspension stemming for a July 2 argument with umpires. DiNardo allowed four runs, one of them earned, and seven hits in six innings with six strikeouts and one walk.
“I faced DiNardo in Triple-A, so I know what to expect,” said Freire, who gave Baltimore a 4-2 lead.
DiNardo was followed by two pitchers who made their Red Sox debuts. Chad Harville allowed a walk in one-third of an inning, and Matt Perisho gave up an RBI double in a two-run seventh to Brian Roberts, his only batter.
After Freire’s homer, Damon’s sacrifice fly cut Baltimore’s lead to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.
Maine made his fifth major league start and seventh appearance, allowing two earned runs and striking out five in addition to the five walks.
“I was missing a little bit, but they didn’t hurt me too much,” Maine said of the walks. “It’s hard to pitch against them. They’re a good-hitting team.”
The Red Sox claimed Harville on Monday after he was put on waivers by Houston. Perisho was called up from Pawtucket on Thursday. Boston signed him Aug. 6, three days after Florida released him. … Rafael Palmeiro returned to Baltimore for an MRI exam of his right knee after Thursday night’s game at Toronto. … Baltimore scored more than four runs for the eighth time in 21 games.