BALTIMORE — Boston has struggled mightily against the Baltimore Orioles over the last two seasons, so after losing the first two games of their weekend series, the Red Sox were still looking for answers Saturday.
John Lackey helped the Red Sox solve at least a part of the puzzle with a solid outing.
Lackey picked up his first victory in four starts, and Mike Carp and Jonny Gomes each hit home runs to lead the Red Sox to a 5-4 victory over Baltimore before an announced 42,422 at Oriole Park.
The Red Sox snapped a five-game road losing streak to the Orioles and increased their lead to 2 1/2 games over second-place Baltimore in the American League East.
“Any win is good,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “This is a very good team. They play right until the end and they’ve somewhat carved out a characteristic over the last year-plus, two years of late-inning comebacks. We expect it again tomorrow.”
Boston can earn a series split Sunday when Jon Lester takes the mound against Miguel Gonzalez. Baltimore has won 13 of its last 18 games against Boston.
Lackey (4-5, 3.08) allowed two earned runs in the first inning and then gave up only three singles the rest of the way. He allowed seven hits, with four strikeouts and one walk on 101 pitches through seven innings.
“Can’t really do much about the first couple guys getting on once they’re on,” Lackey said. “So, you just try to minimize it the best you can, try to locate a little better, maybe change up pitch sequences, that sort of thing. Just try to make an adjustment.”
Right-hander Freddy Garcia of the Orioles struggled through most of his start, allowing five runs on eight hits, with three strikeouts and one walk through 5 1/3 innings.
Garcia (3-4) had allowed only two earned runs or fewer in four of his previous five starts.
“Freddy gave us a chance to win,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He had some things go against him. He hung in there.”
Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado went 2-for-4 and leads the majors with 28 multi-hit games and 31 doubles this season. Matt Wieters hit his ninth home run of the season for Baltimore.
The Orioles got the early lead when Nate McLouth led off the first with a single and scored on Machado’s double. Nick Markakis and Adam Jones followed with back-to-back singles that increased the lead to 2-0 with runners on the corners with none out.
However, Lackey buckled down and got out of the inning with no further damage by getting a ground out and two pop-ups.
The Red Sox got a break in the fourth when Dustin Pedroia appeared to strike out swinging, but the home plate umpire ruled he got a piece of the ball.
Pedroia singled to center on the next pitch, and two batters later, Carp tied the game with a home run to right, snapping Boston’s 18-inning scoreless streak.
“You just continue to pitch and try to make a good pitch,” Garcia said about not getting the strikeout call. “When you face a lineup like that, one hit can change the game.
“It happened because I got a guy on base who should be out. There’s nothing you can do about it.”
Pedroia also wasn’t sure he got a piece of the ball.
“It was a break for us,” Pedroia said. “I just said, ‘I thought I fouled that.’ He said, ‘Foul ball.’ I thought I hit something. It was probably the ground. I don’t know.”
The Red Sox took their first lead of the series, 3-2, on a two-out double by Stephen Drew. A ground out by Pedroia in the fifth scored Jacoby Ellsbury and increased the lead.
As Lackey continued to roll, the Red Sox continued to provide run support, A one-out home run to center field by Gomes provided a 5-2 lead and ended Garcia’s day in the sixth.
The Red Sox were happy to put Friday’s 2-0 loss behind them.
“Us getting shut out is not going to last too long,” Gomes said. “We’ve got some pretty good hitters on this team. It’s a long season. We’ve been on the road for a little bit, so it’s good.”
Wieters hit a two-run home run off Andrew Bailey in the ninth to pull the Orioles to within a run. J.J. Hardy singled, but pinch runner Alexi Casilla was called out after he left first base early on Ryan Flaherty’s liner to right fielder Shane Victorino that ended the game with a double play.
“You just try to give yourself a chance,” Wieters said. “(Flaherty) took a couple real good swings and really hit the ball good. I think Alexi read it as a ball that might be over his head, and if it does get over his head, then he scores from first and we tie the game.
“But it happened to be right at him and that’s how the game ended.”
NOTES: Red Sox third baseman Jose Iglesias extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single in the third. … Boston second baseman Dustin Pedroia singled in the fourth and has reached base safely in 63 games this season, the most in the majors. He also committed his first error of the season in the fifth. … Baltimore held a World Wrestling Entertainment theme on Saturday, where very Orioles batter used pro wrestling entrance music prior to his at-bat. … Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to 13 games. … Orioles catcher Taylor Teagarden snapped an 0-for-21 skid with a single in the fifth.