BALTIMORE — Steven Wright threw a knuckleball at 63 mph on the outside part of the plate in the sixth inning Monday.
Jonathan Schoop took a healthy swing at the ball, which hardly rotated at all, and missed for strike three. He walked back to the first-base dugout, then took a look at Wright as if he was throwing an illegal pitch or perhaps using a Whiffle ball.
Wright (5-4) had his knuckler working on a humid, overcast day, and his pitching helped lead the Boston Red Sox to a 7-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles in a matchup of the top teams in the American League East.
It was the third straight complete game on the road for Wright, who struck out seven. One of his pitches in the ninth was clocked at 66 mph.
“It is all about staying relaxed and repeating the delivery,” said Wright, who certainly did just that. “I wanted to try and finish the ninth.”
Wright entered the game ranked fifth in the American in ERA at 2.52 and he lowered that to 2.45 as he gave up just four hits.
“He is really good,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Wright. “He is real athletic.”
Boston manager John Farrell was happy to see Wright save his bullpen once again away from Fenway Park.
“A good day for us, a big day for Steven,” Farrell said. “An outstanding job. He was able to neutralize the top of the lineup. We could talk all day about him. He is doing a great job.”
The losing pitcher was Tyler Wilson, who posted his fourth quality start in seven tries.
“They are the highest scoring team in the league,” Wilson said of the Red Sox. “Overall I was proud of the way the guys came out and battled.”
The Red Sox had plenty of hitting stars as Xander Bogaerts had two doubles and two RBIs and Blake Swihart had three hits before a Memorial Day crowd of 43,926 that saw homers hit by Jackie Bradley, Jr., David Ortiz and Marco Hernandez.
Bradley broke a tie with a solo homer to center in the sixth off starter Wilson (2-4) to give the Red Sox a 3-2 lead.
Ortiz hit a solo homer to lead off the eighth against rookie lefty Ashur Tolliver as Boston built the margin to 4-2.
Hernandez hit his first career homer in the eighth, a three-run shot off Mychal Givens, as Boston upped the lead to 7-2.
“He really spread it open for us,” Farrell said of Hernandez.
The Red Sox (31-20) are now two games ahead of the Orioles (28-21) in the American League East.
The Orioles scored two runs in the fifth to tie the game at 2-2. Ryan Flaherty had a run-scoring double for just his second RBI of the year, and Chris Davis had a sacrifice fly.
Bogaerts extended his hitting streak to 23 games with an RBI double in the third. That gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead.
“He is really emerging as one of the best players in the major leagues,” Farrell said of Bogaerts. “An elite player.”
The Red Sox stole a run in the first to take a 1-0 lead.
Mookie Betts (two runs) led off with a single and went to second on a groundout. Bogaerts then hit a ball in front of the plate and was thrown out by catcher Caleb Joseph at first, but Betts kept running around third and scored as Wilson was slow to cover the plate.
Showalter argued with home plate umpire Laz Diaz that Bogaerts hit the ball off his foot, but the play stood as Bogaerts was credited with an RBI.
“Maybe a fortunate break,” Farrell said. “He (Betts) set the tone early. He never broke stride.”
Baltimore left the bases loaded in the second. Joseph, with no RBIs this year in 66 at-bats, grounded out with the sacks full to end the frame.
Wilson allowed eight hits and three runs in 6 2/3 innings before Tolliver took over in the seventh. Bogaerts was thrown out stealing, after a replay review, for the third out with Ortiz at the plate in the seventh. Betts also had two hits for the Red Sox, who entered the day with a major league-high 295 runs.
NOTES: Orioles RHP Kevin Gausman (0-2, 3.24 ERA) is slated to face Boston LHP Eduardo Rodriguez, scheduled to make his first start of the year, on Tuesday. Rodriguez came up through the Orioles’ system before he was traded to the Red Sox in 2014. The Red Sox sent down RHP Heath Hembree after the game to make room for Rodriguez.