February 21, 2018
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Red Sox clinch home-field advantage for AL playoffs

Joy R. Absalon |USA Today Sports | BDN
Joy R. Absalon |USA Today Sports | BDN
Baltimore's Danny Valencia scores the game-winning run on a two-run double by Steve Pearce in the eighth inning as Boston Red Sox catcher David Ross applies the late tag at Oriole Park at Camden Yards Saturday night. The Orioles defeated the Red Sox 6-5.
By Jeff Seidel, The Sports Xchange

BALTIMORE — Steve Pearce’s two-run double in the eighth inning gave the Baltimore Orioles a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox Saturday.

But the Red Sox (97-64) won’t be too upset over this loss because they actually clinched home-field advantage all the way through the playoffs when Oakland lost to Seattle earlier in the day. Boston awaits the winner of the wild-card playoff game and could face either Tampa Bay, Cleveland or Texas.

Saturday night’s game featured a number of rallies on both sides. The Orioles (84-77) came up with the decisive one in that eighth inning.

Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia both singled off Junichi Tazawa (5-4) to start the inning. Franklin Morales came on and struck out Nick Markakis.

Pearce then lined a shot into the left-field corner that scored pinch-runner Nate McLouth and Valencia for the 6-5 lead. The designated hitter finished with three RBI.

Jim Johnson came on in the ninth for his 49th save — he now has recorded 100 over the past two seasons. Kevin Gausman (3-5) earned the victory in relief.

The Red Sox had scored three straight runs for a 5-4 lead midway through the game. David Ross cut the lead to one with an RBI single in the sixth, and the Red Sox then added two runs in the seventh.

Jonny Gomes tied the game with his single off Mike Stinson (0-1), which put runners at first and second. Daniel Nava (4-for-4) greeted Brian Matusz with a single to left. Third-base coach Brian Butterfield held up Dustin Pedroia coming around third, but then let him go when left fielder Jason Pridie misplayed the ball, and the error let Pedroia score for a 5-4 lead.

The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a two-out rally. Markakis reached on an infield single and scored when Pearce then doubled off the right field scoreboard.

Brian Roberts made it 2-0 when he homered off Jon Lester on the first pitch of the bottom of the third.

Boston cut the lead in half in the fourth. Jonny Gomes and Daniel Nava had back-to-back singles with one out. David Ross then blooped a two-out single to right that fell in between three Orioles and scored Gomes to make it 2-1.

Boston tied it in the fifth. Stephen Drew started the rally with a one-out double off the right-field wall and scored when Pedroia singled up the middle. Pedroia went to second base on the throw home but was stranded there.

The Orioles answered in the bottom of the fifth with back-to-back RBI singles from Wieters and Valencia for a 4-2 lead.

NOTES: The Orioles shut down recently acquired OF Michael Morse because of left wrist problems. He’ll be checked out to see whether the injury needs surgery. … 2B Brian Roberts, whose contract ends after this season, has said he’d love to come back to the Orioles. Injuries have kept him out for much of the last four years, but he played the second half of 2013 without incident. … Red Sox manager John Farrell said the team won’t have an organized workout on Monday at Fenway Park. The team is going to have a one-day break and get ready to start again on Tuesday. … 3B Will Middlebrooks made a spectacular defensive play on a hard-hit ball from Wieters in the second inning. Middlebrooks made a backhanded stab and his momentum took him into foul territory. He then leaped and made a long throw that skipped twice, but 1B Brandon Snyder was able to stretch and catch just in time for the out.

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