BALTIMORE -- Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz and the Boston Red Sox started slowly in Thursday's series finale with the Orioles. But after the first few innings, everything turned in their favor.
Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez and Cody Ross got consecutive RBI singles in a three-run sixth inning that gave Boston the lead for good, and Buchholz rebounded from a slow beginning to give the Red Sox eight strong innings in a 6-3 victory over the Orioles Thursday night.
Buchholz allowed three runs on six hits in the first two innings, as the Orioles hit a number of hard shots. But he settled down after that, giving up just two hits the rest of the way. The right-hander struck out seven and walked three.
"They were jumping on his early pitches; he got down early and when he saw we had some resiliency in our offense, he shut the door," Boston manager Bobby Valentine said. "He shut it quick. He's a great competitor."
Buchholz (11-3) even had what could be called a perfect sixth inning: nine pitches, nine strikes, three strikeouts. The Red Sox said after the game this was the 47th nine-pitch, three-strikeout inning in major-league history.
The defense also helped him by turning three double plays in the first four innings, and right fielder Ross threw out a runner in the plate in the second-all of which kept the Red Sox close.
"They're an aggressive hitting team," Buchholz said. "They hit a couple balls hard early on and found some holes. For the rest of the game after that third [and] fourth inning, I was able to throw some pitches, keep them off-balance a little bit and miss some bats."
Buchholz has a 1.53 ERA over his last six starts. He's first in the majors with a 2.08 ERA in his last 12 starts - lasting at least six innings in all of them.
The Red Sox awakened on offense starting in the fifth inning. Carl Crawford singled and went to third on a Pedroia double.
Crawford then scored on a wild pitch, and Gonzalez drove in Pedroia on a sacrifice fly to make it 3-3 and end the night for Baltimore starter Chris Tillman.
Pedroia gave Boston the lead with a tie-breaking infield single off Luis Ayala (4-4). Gonzalez followed with a single to right to make it 5-3, and Ross then lined another RBI single for the three-run lead.
"[The win] is big for us," Ross said. "It's been kind of a somber sort of atmosphere in here, especially after last night. We could have easily come out and played flat again tonight, but there's too many guys in here that have been around long enough that we know what we have to do."
Alfredo Aceves came on in the ninth to close it for his 24th save this season.
The only negative for Boston was that Jacoby Ellsbury went 0-for-4 and his 38-game hitting streak versus the Orioles ended.
Boston finished with 13 hits while Crawford, Pedroia and Gonzalez all had two hits apiece. Scott Podsednik also got two hits, and Ross finished 3-for-5.
The Orioles took an early 2-0 lead when Adam Jones lined a two-run double to right in the bottom of the first. That scored Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy, both of whom had singled and moved up on a Nate McLouth groundout.
Boston scored on a two-out rally in the second. Podsednik battled Tillman to a full count and lined a 3-2 pitch to center to drive in a run and cut the lead to 2-1.
The Orioles answered in the bottom of the inning when Mark Reynolds homered on the first pitch. They could've had more, but the Red Sox turned a Markakis bunt into a double play, and right fielder Ross threw out Omar Quintanilla at home after a Hardy single.
Boston started to turn things around in the fifth, and Buchholz quickly took command.
"We got it started early, and [Buchholz] settled in," Jones said. "We had some chances early to open it up a little bit and he settled in."
NOTES: Boston's ownership group showed up for the game to watch after several days of controversy involving the status of Valentine, and everyone seemed glad to see them.
. . .The Orioles recalled infielder Joe Mahoney from Triple-A Norfolk and placed infielder Wilson Betemit on the 15-day disabled list with right wrist problems. The move with Betemit is retroactive to Aug. 12. Mahoney came up to the Orioles early this season and went 0-for-3 in his only game. He plays first base. Betemit had a .264 average with 12 homers and 37 RBIs in 97 games...The Orioles have won 11 straight one-run games in a stretch that goes back to June 22. The club record is 12, and the last time the Orioles won 11 one-run contests in a row was in 1979...Boston's Ellsbury made his first start of the season at designated hitter. He's usually the center fielder and has played in only 37 games so far -- missing three months with a shoulder subluxation...Gonzalez, through Wednesday's game, led the majors with 35 RBIs since the All-Star Game. His .374 average in that time also ranks him second in the American League.