Orioles miss big chance in 9th, lose to Boston 2-1

Associated Press Modified: September 23, 2012 at 8:21 pm •  Published: September 23, 2012

BOSTON (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles ended a successful road trip with a wasted opportunity to climb into a tie for the AL East lead.

When Ryan Flaherty struck out with the bases loaded in the ninth inning Sunday, the Red Sox had a 2-1 win and the Orioles headed home after going 6-3 on the journey to Oakland, Seattle and Boston.

"We needed this one. Obviously, going down to this last stretch every game is looked at as a must win," Adam Jones said. "We had a good road trip. We really, really wanted this one to finish off the road trip, but it happens."

The Orioles remained one game behind the New York Yankees and lead Oakland by one game for the top wild-card spot in the league. The Athletics beat the Yankees 5-4.

The Red Sox snapped a four-game losing streak — and ended the Orioles six-game winning streak — but are trying to finish out of the division cellar with their first losing record since 1997.

"Coming to Boston, take two out of three, I don't care what kind of team we're playing or how we're playing," Baltimore's Mark Reynolds said. "It's always big and we keep wining series and we'll see where we're at here in a week or two."

The Orioles almost completed a three-game sweep after Cody Ross doubled in the go-ahead run in the eighth. They loaded the bases with one out against Andrew Bailey on a single by Reynolds, a ground-rule double by pinch-hitter Jim Thome and an intentional walk to Chris Davis. But Boston's closer got Manny Machado to ground into a forceout at home, then struck out Ryan Flaherty to nail down his sixth save in eight opportunities.

"I like to work fast, but sometimes I work too quickly and get ahead of myself," Bailey said. "Today I was able to slow myself down and make the pitches when I needed to."

The decisive run came in when Dustin Pedroia led off the eighth with a double against Luis Ayala (5-5) and Ross followed with his tiebreaking hit.

In the first inning, Ross reached over the short right field wall near Pesky's Pole in the corner to take a home run away from Jones.

"I didn't really know where I was, actually. I thought that the ball was in front of the pole after I had caught it," Ross said. "I ran in and somebody was like 'You just robbed a home run.' I was like 'I did? All right. Cool.'"

Junichi Tazawa (1-1) pitched a perfect eighth before the Orioles rally fell short.

Baltimore dropped to 27-9 in one-run games.

Boston starter Felix Doubront struck out 11 in seven innings, including three each against Robert Andino and Reynolds. Andino returned after being hit in the helmet with a pitch on Friday night.

With the pitcher's mound in the sun and home plate in shadow until later in the game, hitters had a tough time picking up pitches, especially from a lefty.

"It was tough. Guys were trying sunglasses, no sunglasses, light lens, dark lens," Reynolds said. "Both teams were playing in the same conditions. It's probably why the score was 2-1."

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