The Baltimore Orioles have used a slew of home runs to post back-to-back wins and move closer to their first playoff berth in 15 years.
Continuing that type of offense figures to be much more difficult given their next mound opponent.
Less than a week after they were shut down by Felix Doubront, the Orioles get another shot at the left-hander Saturday night against the reeling Boston Red Sox.
Baltimore responded from two straight losses by matching a team record with seven homers in a 12-2 win over Toronto on Wednesday. The power surge continued with two more home runs Friday night, including a first-inning grand slam from Ryan Flaherty in a 9-1 rout of Boston.
Flaherty finished with a career-high five RBIs and Chris Davis added a two-run shot, the Orioles' club-record 122nd home run at home. They had scored 18 straight runs via the long ball before Manny Machado's RBI double in the fifth.
"Yeah, it seems like every night it's someone new,' Flaherty said. "Whether it is a pitcher, a hitter, a play in the field, something. We'll keep riding it.'
Another big offensive performance was hardly needed with Chris Tillman limiting the Red Sox to one hit - a bunt single to the game's first batter - over eight innings.
The Orioles (90-67) remain atop the wild-card standings and stayed one game behind the Yankees for the AL East lead. Baltimore's magic number for clinching the franchise's first postseason appearance since 1997 is three.
Reducing that number won't be easy if Doubront (11-9, 4.91 ERA) performs anything like he did Sunday against the Orioles at Fenway Park.
He struck out a career-high 11 while matching a personal best by lasting seven innings, allowing one run before leaving without a decision in an eventual 2-1 victory. Doubront has surrendered no home runs and compiled a 2.79 ERA in his last three starts after yielding four while posting a 10.50 mark in his previous three outings.
Davis is one of the only Orioles to have any success against him, going 3 for 8 with a double. Matt Wieters, Robert Andino, Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy are a combined 0 for 22 with 15 strikeouts.
Doubront is 0-1 with a 2.81 ERA in five appearances - two starts - versus Baltimore.
Boston (69-88) has been outscored 52-22 while losing seven of eight and could be headed for its first 90-loss season since 1966.
"We've just got to get guys on and do things, you know?' manager Bobby Valentine said. "We did it in the first inning. But we're not going to outslug them very often, that's for sure. It looked like we were trying to slug a little tonight.'
Wieters is likely to return to the lineup after he missed the series opener following the birth of his first child. He would be behind the plate for Steve Johnson (4-0, 1.62), who has been more than a pleasant surprise for the Orioles.
The rookie right-hander is 3-0 with a 2.12 ERA in three starts, allowing 12 hits in 17 innings while walking seven and striking out 22.
He tossed five scoreless innings in a 4-1 victory over Toronto on Monday, putting two runners on base in three of the first four frames before working out of trouble on each occasion.
Johnson struck out four in two scoreless innings of relief against the Red Sox on Aug. 16.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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