BALTIMORE (AP)—Wily Mo Pena was standing in the on-deck circle when an intentional walk loaded the bases. Pena had struggled all season against right-handed pitching, which did not bode well for his matchup against Baltimore closer Chris Ray.
“I had to go in there and be patient, take one pitch to hit,” Pena said.
That pitch was a fastball, and Pena launched it an estimated 430 feet. The eighth-inning grand slam capped a rally that provided the Boston Red Sox with a 5-2 victory Thursday night.
Josh Beckett became the majors’ first five-game winner, allowing two runs and eight hits in eight innings to help the Red Sox complete a two-game sweep.
Boston trailed 2-1 before Pena delivered his third career grand slam. He came into the game batting .120, including 1-for-20 against right-handers.
“It has been tough. The last couple weeks I hadn’t been swinging well,” he said. “I had to keep my head up.”
Manny Ramirez opened the Boston eighth with a walk off John Parrish. Ray (2-2) entered with one out and promptly gave up a double to Mike Lowell, then walked Jason Varitek to bring up Pena, who slammed a 2-1 fastball for his second homer of the season.
“He just put it in there. I swing,” Pena said. “When I swing I knew it was gone.”
Pena is a fastball hitter, but that’s also Ray’s best pitch.
“You don’t want to get beat on your second-best pitch,” Ray said.
It was the first time Ray entered before the ninth inning this season, but he was working on four days rest and Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo was desperate to end Baltimore’s three-game skid.
“We were trying to win that ballgame at all costs and he was fresh,” Perlozzo said. “We pulled everything out we could and it just didn’t work.”
Ray lamented the hanging slider that Lowell hit, and said the pitch to Pena also missed its mark.
“I tried to go inside and didn’t go inside far enough,” Ray said, “and he was just sitting on a fastball.”
Before that at-bat, Boston was 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
Beckett (5-0) gave up five doubles, but became the 11th Red Sox pitcher to win his first five starts in a season. He joins a list that includes Babe Ruth, Roger Clemens, Lefty Grove and Pedro Martinez.
“He pitched a whale of game,” Boston manager Terry Francona said. “He wanted to go out and finish that. He probably could have.”
Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his seventh save in seven tries. In nine career appearances against Baltimore, the right-hander has a spotless ERA, two wins and six saves.
Melvin Mora had two doubles and drove in a run for the Orioles, who are 3-17 against Boston since the start of the 2006 season.
Orioles starter Adam Loewen gave up one run, struck out five and walked five in six innings. The only hits he allowed were a fourth-inning single to J.D. Drew and a single in the sixth by Kevin Youkilis.
Down 2-0 in the sixth, the Red Sox used a single by Youkilis and two walks to load the bases with no outs. After Drew popped out, Lowell drove in a run with a broken-bat roller to third. That put runners at second and third for Varitek, who struck out.
Danys Baez entered in the seventh for Baltimore and gave up a leadoff double to Pena, then walked Youkilis with two outs to put runners at the corners. Parrish came in and retired David Ortiz on a comebacker.
That only delayed the inevitable: another Boston win over Baltimore.
In the top of the third, Loewen issued three straight two-out walks before retiring Ortiz on a groundout.
Baltimore made it 2-0 in the bottom half. In his initial at-bat of the season following a stint on the disabled list, Ramon Hernandez doubled on the first pitch from Beckett and came home on a two-out double by Mora.
Hernandez also singled in the seventh.
The Orioles designated C Alberto Castillo for assignment to make room for Hernandez. … Lowell went 1-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 12 games. … It was the seventh time that Mora hit two doubles in a game. … Orioles DH Jay Gibbons went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 16 at-bats.