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DH Davis pitches two scoreless innings as O’s outlast Red Sox in 17 innings

Steven Senne | AP
Steven Senne | AP
Boston Red Sox's Darnell McDonald pitches to a Baltimore Orioles batter in the 17th inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park, in Boston, Sunday, May 6, 2012. The Orioles defeated the Red Sox 9-6 in 17 innings.
The Associated Press

BOSTON — Chris Davis had a much better day as a designated pitcher than as a designated hitter.

In the first major league game since 1925 in which both teams put a position player on the mound, Davis overcame an awful day at the plate by pitching two scoreless innings and getting the win as the Baltimore Orioles outlasted Boston 9-6 Sunday in 17 innings.

Davis went 0 for 8 as the DH, striking out five times and grounding into a double play. Yet in a season full of surprises for the Orioles, the first baseman by trade delivered the biggest one yet in his pro pitching debut.

“I was like ‘Sweet! I get to try something different today — because hitting ain’t working,” Davis said. “Basically, that was my first thought.”

Adam Jones hit a three-run homer in the top of the 17th off Darnell McDonald, an outfielder the Red Sox turned to once their bullpen was empty.

Boston then got two runners on to start the 17th against Davis (1-0). With a fastball in the mid-80s mph, he struck out All-Star slugger Adrian Gonzalez and got McDonald to ground into a double play to end a game that took 6 hours, 7 minutes.

The last time two teams brought in position players to pitch in the same game was Oct. 4, 1925, when Hall of Famers Ty Cobb of Detroit and George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns closed out the second game of a doubleheader on the last day of the season, STATS LLC said.

The last time any position player wound up as the winning pitcher was May 25, 2011, when Philadelphia infielder Wilson Valdez threw one scoreless inning in a 19-inning victory over Cincinnati.

“I was just out there trying to throw strikes and not blow the game,” Davis said. “In a game like that when everybody’s battling, trying to get a win, both teams are throwing everything they got at each other. You don’t want to blow it.”

Baltimore and Boston each used eight pitchers before going to Davis and McDonald.

“Just when you think you’ve seen it all, some days you come out here and just assume the position. That was fun,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “It was a long day, but you like to get something good out of it.”

J.J. Hardy had a career-high five hits, including two homers, as Baltimore completed its first sweep at Fenway Park since 1994 and won its fifth in a row. The shortstop also made a relay to the plate that cut down the potential winning run to end the 16th.

Robert Andino hit a three-run shot for the Orioles, who improved to a major league-best 19-9.

Boston has lost five straight. McDonald had scored the tying run as a pinch runner in the eighth, and took the final swing against Davis.

“He had pretty good stuff. He had a lot of life on his balls — more than I expected,” McDonald said. “I don’t know what was worse — giving up the three-run home run or grounding into a double play to end the game.”

Said Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine: “He tried to throw it over and got hit out of the park.”

“I wish there was another option,” he said.

Boston rookie Will Middlebrooks hit his first major league homer, a grand slam that tied it at 5 in the fifth inning. Gonzalez finished 0 for 8.

Davis was having a tough day when Showalter told him to go to the bullpen and begin warming up.

“I waited as long as I could to even break it to Chris,” he said. “You don’t put somebody in that position. It’s like asking somebody if they want to walk somebody or not. It’s not their decision, it’s yours.”

The first batter Davis faced was Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who struck out. After Middlebrooks flied out, Marlon Byrd reached on an error by third baseman Wilson Betemit.

Mike Aviles followed with a double, but Byrd was thrown out at the plate. Jones ran down the ball in left-center field and threw a strike to Hardy, and his relay was in time as Byrd barreled into catcher Matt Wieters.

McDonald, who pitched one inning last year in his pro mound debut and gave up two runs, took over in the 17th and walked Betemit, who was thrown out trying to steal.

Hardy doubled, Nick Markakis walked and Jones hit a drive over the left-field wall.

Boston made it 6-all in the eighth when McDonald, pinch running for David Ortiz, scored on a sacrifice fly by Saltalamacchia.

NOTES: The game was Boston’s longest at home since an 18-inning win over the Tigers on June 5, 2001. … The Red Sox placed RHP Aaron Cook on the 15-day disabled list with a left knee laceration and activated LHP Andrew Miller from the DL. … Middlebrooks is the first Red Sox player whose first major league homer was a grand slam since Daniel Nava against Philadelphia on June 12, 2010. … The Red Sox are last in the AL East, with the New York Yankees in fourth. This is the first time since the current division format began in 1994 that the Red Sox and Yankees were in the bottom two spots past May 1, STATS LLC said.

On Saturday, Jason Hammel continued his strong start this season by going 6 2-3 solid innings and Mark Reynolds hit a 3-run homer, helping the Orioles send the Boston Red Sox to another Fenway Park failure with an 8-2 win.

“I really decided that end of last year it was really time to make an adjustment,” said Hammel, acquired from the Colorado Rockies in an offseason trade. “I was getting my teeth knocked in for about four years straight and I decided it was time to make an adjustment. I went down to the bullpen in Colorado and focused on pitching there, learned how to pitch.”

Hammel (4-1) limited the Red Sox to a pair of first-inning hits and held them scoreless until he gave up two runs in the seventh. The right-hander gave up two runs, four hits, struck out eight and walked one, slightly raising his impressive ERA to 2.09 from 1.97.

“Boy, he pounded the strike zone with good stuff,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s doing the things that give him a chance to win the game.”

Last year, Hammel made 25 starts before being demoted to the bullpen in mid-August, but in September he gave up only four earned runs in 20 innings.

On Saturday, Hammel retired 16 of 17 batters, allowing only David Ortiz’s fourth-inning walk after the hits in the first before Adrian Gonzalez reached on an infield hit and scored on Ryan Sweeney’s RBI double.

Adam Jones added a two-run homer for Baltimore, which won its fourth straight and 10th in the last 12 games.

Baltimore goes for the three-game sweep against the Red Sox on Sunday after taking two of three from the Yankees in New York.

“These last few years teams have always taken advantage of us,” Jones said. “Now, we’ve got a series, but I think we need to sweep. We need to be hungry, keep the momentum going.”

Gonzalez had three hits for Boston, which lost its fourth straight and has dropped nine of its last 10 games at Fenway.

“We’ve just got to come back and play better,” Ortiz said. “It’s not magical.”

The Orioles knocked out starter Aaron Cook (0-1) after 2 2-3 innings and built an 8-0 lead after three. Cook, signed as a minor league free agent in January, was making his first start after Josh Beckett was skipped due to soreness.

Cook suffered a cut on his left knee in the second inning, covering the plate on a passed ball, but stayed in.

“I thought about taking him out immediately. I brought in the guy from the bullpen,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “The medical staff said he’d be fine. … I told him, ‘Cookie it’s on you, man.'”

Cook said he got 11 stitches after he came out.

In four of his five previous starts, Hammel was lifted with Baltimore having scored three runs or fewer. His last start was a 2-1 loss at the New York Yankees on Monday.

The Orioles gave him plenty of run support this time.

Leading 1-0, six of eight batters collected hits and another walked as Baltimore chased Cook with six runs in the third. The two outs came on Robert Andino’s liner to left and Endy Chavez being caught on the front end of a double-steal attempt at third.

Nick Markakis had an RBI single before Jones belted a homer over the Green Monster seats and completely out of Fenway. Wilson Betemit, the last batter Cook faced, had an RBI single after Matt Wieters doubled and Chris Davis singled, making it 5-0.

Clayton Mortensen relieved and Reynolds homered into the Monster seats. Reynolds also hit his first home run of the season in Friday’s win.

Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the second when Davis scored on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s passed ball. Cook was spiked by Davis’ slide as the pitcher came sliding knees-first trying to block the plate. Cook was looked at by a Red Sox trainer on the field then headed down the dugout steps and Mortensen came trotting in from the bullpen before Cook came back out and the reliever headed back to the pen.

NOTES: Showalter said before the game that veteran infielder Miguel Tejada will report to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday to take a physical. … Showalter also said that LHP Zach Britton, rehabbing from left shoulder inflammation, threw 47 pitches in Sarasota and he “felt good.” … Valentine said before the game that 3B Kevin Youkilis, on the 15-day DL with a strained lower back, had an MRI today. Valentine did not know the results. … Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks was a late scratch with a sore left hamstring. … Mortensen went 3 1-3, giving up two hits and striking out five. … Cook was 3-0 with a 1.89 ERA with Triple-A Pawtucket.

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