Thome, Orioles win 16th straight in extra innings
BOSTON (AP) — When a game goes into extra innings, the Baltimore Orioles have been almost unbeatable. When Jim Thome comes up in a big situation, his teammates are confident he'll deliver.
Thome did that Saturday, doubling in the go-ahead run in a 9-6 win in 12 innings over the Boston Red Sox that was Baltimore's 16th straight victory in games that reach overtime.
The 22-year veteran came through in his first game after nearly two months on the disabled list, enabling the Orioles to remain one game behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East. They lead the Oakland Athletics by two games for the league's No. 1 wild-card berth.
"This situation is not new to him," said Adam Jones, who doubled and scored on Thome's hit. "He's missed some time, but stepping into that box ... he always rises to the occasion."
Just as the Orioles rise to the challenge of extra-inning games. Their winning streak in those games 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.
The Orioles won their sixth in a row overall.
Thome had two homers, six RBIs and 10 walks in 18 games after being acquired from Philadelphia on July 1 before going on the disabled list from July 31 until Friday with a herniated disc in his neck.
"These guys have been playing very well and to come in and get a big hit like that is big," he said. "You want to be a part of what they're doing and I think that's what makes you work hard when you're down (in the minors) because you really don't know when you're on rehab how the process is going to go. So being here and being in this atmosphere, you enjoy every minute of it."
Thome was having a rough day in his first appearance since July 27, and was 0 for 5 with a double play and two strikeouts. But the slugger gave Baltimore a 7-6 lead with his ground-rule double off Alfredo Aceves (2-10). Endy Chavez and Manny Machado added RBI singles to pad the lead.
"The game is a weird game. That's what makes it so fun," Thome said. "You can be 0 for 5 and continue to be positive and keep battling and you get a big hit like that."
Tommy Hunter (6-8) pitched a perfect 11th and Jim Johnson finished to extend his franchise record to 47 saves. He's blown just three.
Jones earlier hit his 31st home run.
The Red Sox are 0-7 in extra-inning games at home.
"At the end of the season, the teams that you see go into the playoffs pull out the extra-inning games," Boston's Cody Ross said. "We just haven't been able to do that this year."