BOSTON (AP) - It seemed as though the Red Sox were spraying hits all over the place against Wei-Yin Chen. The problem was, hardly any of them came with runners on base.
Thanks to seven strong innings from Chen and a weak showing by the top of Boston's lineup, the Red Sox lost 2-1 to the Orioles on Wednesday night.
Chen scattered seven hits over seven innings and the Orioles set a franchise record with their seventh straight victory in Boston.
``He was throwing a lot of strikes. He just kept pounding the zone with strikes and missing barrels,' said Aviles, who drove in Boston's run with a sacrifice fly. ``I think this is the second time he's pitched against us and he's pitched well against us. Just knows how to pitch, a good pitcher all around. Throws all his pitches for strikes and keeps pounding the zone.'
Boston's first four batters were a combined 1 for 14. The Red Sox stranded eight runners.
Josh Beckett (4-6) was the tough-luck loser, allowing two runs, five hits and striking out five in eight innings. It was the fifth consecutive start he's pitched at least seven innings.
``Josh pitched awesome,' catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia said. ``The one inning they got their runs, they weren't really hard-hit. It was just, balls fell in. But in this division, in this league, you've got to score more than one, for sure, especially with an offense like that. We've just got to do a better job of scoring some runs.'
The Orioles, who knocked Boston out of the postseason on the final night of the regular season last year, have won 12 of the past 15 meetings. They are 5-0 at Fenway Park this season.
Endy Chavez, who had three hits in a series-opening win Tuesday, drove in the go-ahead run with a grounder in the sixth. Boston has lost three straight for the first time since early May.
Chen (5-2) was coming off the worst start of his first major league season, when he allowed five first-inning runs Friday in a loss to Tampa Bay. This time he struck out four, didn't walk anyone and stranded six runners.
Jim Johnson, who had his first blown save of the season Tuesday after converting 25 straight chances dating to last year, got three outs for his 18th save. The first batter he retired was Saltalamacchia, who hit a tying, two-run homer one night earlier.
Trailing 1-0 and with just a single in the first five innings, the Orioles opened the sixth with three consecutive hits and took the lead with two runs. Robert Andino had an RBI single after Wilson Betemit and Ryan Flaherty singled. Chavez's fielder's choice made it 2-1.
The Red Sox grabbed a 1-0 lead in the third when Darnell McDonald doubled off the Green Monster, advanced on Marlon Byrd's single and scored on Aviles' sacrifice fly.
Chen allowed hits in every inning except the first, but kept the damage to a minimum. The Red Sox had an excellent chance to tie or take the lead in the seventh after putting runners on second and third with one out, but Chen fanned Byrd before Aviles popped out to short right.
``In the seventh we have first and second and Darnell executes a nice bunt. They're going to play the infield back - second and third, all we need is contact for a tie game, base hit for a lead and Marlon hasn't struck out that many times against left-handers. He struck out,' Boston manager Bobby Valentine said.
With help from third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who made a diving grab of Mark Reynolds' second-inning liner, Beckett retired the first nine batters on 29 pitches, fanning three.
Beckett faced the minimum and held the Orioles to one runner through the first five innings - Chavez's single leading off the fourth. Chavez was erased when J.J. Hardy bounced into a double play.
NOTES: Valentine said RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka will start Saturday against Washington, one day before the one-year anniversary of his Tommy John surgery. Matsuzaka made eight rehab starts and is taking the spot of Daniel Bard, sent to Triple-A Pawtucket on Tuesday. Bard, a converted reliever, is 5-6 with a 5.24 ERA. ... The Orioles selected Cal Ripken Jr.'s son, Ryan, in the 20th round of the draft. ``That was pretty cool,' manager Buck Showalter said. ``This kid's got a chance to be a player. He's an outstanding prospect.' The 6-foot-6 Ryan Ripken played at the Gilmon School in Baltimore.
The Associated Press News Service
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