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Orioles-Red Sox Preview

AP - Sports

Scuffling with runners in scoring position for more than a week, the Baltimore Orioles finally got some clutch hits in their series opener with the Boston Red Sox.

They'll try for another strong performance against a pitcher that gave up a plethora of hits in his last outing.

The Orioles look to win their seventh straight game at Fenway Park for the first time in their history Wednesday night when they go up against Josh Beckett.

Following a disastrous 1-7 stretch, Baltimore (31-24) moved back into a first-place tie with Tampa Bay in the AL East after Tuesday's 8-6, 10-inning win over the Red Sox (28-27). Boston's Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit a two-run homer - his sixth in 14 games - with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off closer Jim Johnson to force extra innings, but then Ronny Paulino and Endy Chavez had RBI singles in the 10th for the Orioles, who matched a season high with 15 hits. Chavez finished with three hits, while Robert Andino, J.J. Hardy, Mark Reynolds and Matt Wieters had two apiece.

"I try not to get too high and too low, but that's one of our better wins of the year," said manager Buck Showalter, whose club improved to 4-0 at Fenway this season. "That was a real test for us a little bit."'

Baltimore went 8 for 17 with runners in scoring position, after going 10 for 57 (.175) in RBI situations during its 1-7 slump.

Dating to the end of last season, it was the sixth straight win at Fenway for the Orioles, whose last six-game winning streak there bridged the 1992 and 1993 campaigns. The franchise hasn't won seven straight road games in this series since reeling off 10 in a row in 1906, when the team was the St. Louis Browns. The Boston franchise was then called the Americans, and played at the Huntington Avenue Grounds.

The Orioles will try to again make things difficult for Beckett (4-5, 4.26 ERA), who went 1-2 with a 7.03 ERA in four starts versus Baltimore last season. Adam Jones was 5 for 12 with a homer and double off Beckett, Andino was 4 for 9 with a home run and Wieters went 3 for 10 with a solo shot.

Wieters has been locked in lately, going 8 for 16 with three RBIs in four June games after going 3 for 40 (.075) with 13 strikeouts in his final 12 contests of May.

Beckett, who is 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA in six starts against teams outside the AL Central, also ended May with a thud. The right-hander, who had posted a 1.25 ERA in his previous three starts, permitted four runs, a season-high 10 hits and a walk over seven innings of Thursday's 7-3 loss to Detroit.

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia returned to Boston's lineup Tuesday after missing six games with a thumb injury, but was 0 for 3 with a sacrifice fly as Boston lost its second straight following a 5-1 stretch.

The Red Sox, who haven't dropped three in a row since May 8-10, plated at least six runs for the sixth time in eight games.

Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen (4-2, 3.75) was knocked around for five runs and five hits in the first inning against the Rays on Friday. He settled down after that, retiring 14 of the next 16 batters - including his final 10 - and not allowing another hit before exiting with two outs in the sixth, but the damage was done in a 5-0 defeat.

The Orioles have lost Chen's last three starts, with the rookie left-hander recording a 7.31 ERA. He had compiled a 2.35 ERA as Baltimore won his previous six outings. He allowed four runs in five innings at Fenway on May 4, but the Orioles prevailed 6-4 in 13 innings.

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