Dan Wetzel:

Orioles not letting Red Sox play spoilers

The SportsXchange

BOSTON -- Last year, the Baltimore Orioles helped ruin the collapsing Red Sox's playoff hopes by beating Boston five times in seven games late in the season, including on the final night to complete the meltdown.

Now, the roles are reversed and it's the Red Sox, finishing a miserable season, trying to ruin things for Baltimore.

The Orioles, in a tight battle with the Yankees for the American League East title, have six of their final 13 games with the out-of-the-money Sox. It started Friday night at Fenway Park, when the Birds won their fifth straight, beating Boston 4-2 to keep pace with the winning Yankees.

Baltimore, with a winning record for the first time since 1997, still trails New York, which won its game moments before the Orioles finished off their win.

The Birds, in their first winning season since 1997, are enjoying this thing.

"It's nice when you come to the ballpark and, in general every game means something," Orioles close Jim Johnson said after registering his 46th save in 49 chances, thus setting a new club record. "You can feel it amongst the guys in the clubhouse and the crowd that we play in. We're even seeing for the first time seeing Baltimore fans in Boston; I've never seen that before.

"It's pretty cool to see how things are changing. It's a good time; we're enjoying the ride, but we're not satisfied."

Matt Wieters, hot in September (.333, 7-for-19 in his last four games) singled in two runs in the fourth inning and doubled home another in the sixth as the Orioles beat Jon Lester (9-13) for the first time. The lefty is now 14-1 against Baltimore but has failed to beat the Birds in his last four tries against them.

Rookie Miguel Gonzalez, given extra rest as the Orioles monitor his innings, went 6 1/3 innings to raise his record to 7-4 with his first September victory.

"Having those extra days off helped me out," said Gonzalez, who had last worked Sept. 12.

Darren O'Day got five straight outs before Johnson worked a one-hit ninth for his record-breaking save, snapping a tie with Randy Myers for the mark.

Asked what the record meant to him, the righty said, it means "that we're winning games, that we're having a good season, that's all it really means right now.

"Any time you talk about 'in Baltimore Oriole history,' you got my attention at hello," said manager Buck Showalter, the maestro of this incredible turnaround. "I'm so proud of him. That is some kind of feat."

Mark Reynolds singled home a run in the sixth, his 15th RBI in 10 games against the Red Sox this season.

The Orioles lead the season series 9-4 (6-1 at Fenway Park) and are 14-6 against Boston dating back to last September.

"It was bound to happen sometime," Lester said of the Baltimore turnaround. "They're playing good this year. They've always had a good offense. They're just putting everything else together. Like I said it was bound to happen.

"I saw a stat the other day. They're able to win those one-run games. It's very important. It turns your season around. Back end of their bullpen is very good. You saw that tonight with their closer. I think Buck's done a very good job of trying to change the mentality of the players."

Robert Andino, whose hit (and subsequent celebration) finished the Red Sox off last year, had his helmet knocked off by a Mark Melancon pitch in the ninth inning -- with warnings issued to both benches. Clearly upset, he left the game for concussion testing and was sent for a head scan afterward.

The Red Sox, who helped spoil Tampa Bay's playoff chance by winning the first two games of the four-game series in Florida, took a 1-0 lead in the third inning but Baltimore scored twice in the fourth.

Dustin Pedroia snapped an 0-for-18 with an RBI single that tied it in the fifth, but the Birds came right back with two in the sixth.

Pedro Ciriaco, Scott Podsednik and Daniel Nava all had two hits for the Red Sox, who have secured their first losing season since 1997 (yes, the same year the Orioles had a winning record).

Notes: The Orioles have played 10 straight errorless games and have made one error in their last 14. ... Baltimore named veteran lefty Randy Wolf to start Saturday's middle game of the series against Aaron Cook. Wolf is 2-1 with a 2.73 ERA in four career starts at Fenway, including a strong seven-inning effort last season. ... Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the Red Sox lineup with an undisclosed injury. He was 16-for-40 with 10 RBI over the last 10 games. Ellsbury didn't start the series finale at Tampa Bay, but entered the game in the fourth inning after Ciriaco, getting his first look at center field, misplayed two balls. Sox manager Bobby Valentine said Ellsbury shouldn't have played Thursday night, either. ... The Red Sox added pitchers Zach Stewart and Pedro Beato and third baseman Danny Valencia, who were with Pawtucket when the PawSox, the International League champions, lost the Triple-A title game to Reno earlier in the week. Pawtucket manager Arnie Beyeler and pitching coach Rich Sauveur also joined for the final 11 games. ... The Orioles activated Jim Thome and reliever Troy Patton from the disabled list for the final 13 games.

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