BOSTON (AP) - Cody Ross insists the Boston Red Sox's focus as their first losing season since 1997 winds down is simply to try to play hard each day.
``That's the only thing we can do right now - stay positive and keep grinding, keep fighting and a pitch at a time as they say,' Ross said after the Red Sox lost 9-6 in 12 innings to the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday. ``So one pitch at a time.'
After rallying late, Boston fell to its fourth straight loss as Jim Thome hit a tiebreaking RBI double off struggling reliever Alfredo Aceves in the 12th that helped send the Orioles to their 16th straight extra-inning win.
The Red Sox dropped to 0-7 in extra-inning games in Fenway Park, and are 12 games under .500 at home overall.
Aceves (2-10) was charged with all three runs while getting only two outs in the 12th and has given up 22 runs in 24 1-3 innings since the beginning of August, raising his ERA to 5.31 from 3.83.
``It's kind of like a box of chocolates - you never know what you're going to get,' Boston manager Bobby Valentine said when asked why Aceves, once the team's closer, has failed often late in the season.
Another extra-inning win by the Orioles was proof why Baltimore's fighting the for AL East title while the Red Sox are looking to avoid their first last-place finish in 20 years.
``At the end of the season, the teams that you see go into the playoffs pull out the extra-inning games and win a lot of extra-inning games,' Ross said. ``We just haven't been able to do that this year.'
The Orioles won their sixth in a row overall and remained one game behind New York in the division after the Yankees rallied to beat Oakland 10-9 in 14 innings.
Baltimore's extra-inning streak is the best in the majors since the Cleveland Indians won 17 straight in 1949. The Orioles are 16-2 in extras this year, losing only to the Yankees on April 10-11.
``We've had so much experience at it there's not some sense of panic,' Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Thome had been on the disabled list from July 31 until Friday with a herniated disc in his neck. He was having a rough day in his first appearance since July 27, going 0 for 5 with a double play and two strikeouts. However, the veteran slugger gave Baltimore a 7-6 lead with his ground-rule double that drove in Adam Jones, who led off the 12th with a double.
``This situation is not new to him,' Jones said. ``He's missed some time, but stepping into that box ... he always rises to the occasion.'
Endy Chavez and Manny Machado added RBI singles to pad the lead.
Tommy Hunter (6-8) pitched a perfect 11th and Jim Johnson finished to extend his franchise record to 47 saves in 50 chances.
Trailing 6-3, the Red Sox tied the game with two runs in the seventh and one in the eighth.
In the seventh, they loaded the bases with no outs against Jake Arrieta on a double by Scott Podsednik, a walk to Pedro Ciriaco and an infield single by Dustin Pedroia. Ross and Ryan Lavarnway each drove in a run when they grounded into forceouts.
Pedro Strop relieved to start the bottom of the eighth and retired the first two batters. But Daniel Nava and Podsednik followed with consecutive doubles, tying it at 6.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the first when Nate McLouth led off with a walk, stole second, moved up on a groundout and scored on a grounder by Jones. The Red Sox tied it in the bottom half on a ground-rule double by Pedroia and a single by Lavarnway.
Baltimore made it 2-1 in the second on an RBI single by Machado then added a run in the fourth on a leadoff homer by Mark Reynolds, his 22nd of the year.
Boston tied it in the bottom half of the fourth on a leadoff single by Mike Aviles and Danny Valencia's first homer since the Red Sox acquired him from the Minnesota Twins on Aug. 5. It was his third of the season.
The Orioles went back on top 5-3 in the sixth on a two-run triple by Ryan Flaherty, starting for second baseman Robert Andino, who was in uniform but didn't play after being hit on the left ear flap of his helmet by a pitch in the ninth inning of Baltimore's 4-2 win on Friday night. Results of a CAT scan were negative.
Jones made it 6-3 in the seventh with his 31st homer.
NOTES: The Red Sox starting lineup had seven players, including Aaron Cook, who spent time in the minors this year. The three who didn't were Aviles, Pedroia and Ross. ... Cook had won his previous start after going 0-5 in six before that. ... Cook had allowed just one stolen base, the fewest among AL pitchers with at least 80 innings, before McLouth stole second in the first. ... Chris Tillman (8-2) pitches for Baltimore against Felix Doubront (11-9) in Sunday's finale of the three-game series.
The Associated Press News Service
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