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One for the Birds

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By DAVID GINSBURG   AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) _ The Boston Red Sox found another way to lose,
this time on a broken-bat single and an inside-the-park homer, and
their 6-3 defeat against the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night
dropped them into a tie in the AL wild-card race.

Boston’s 17th loss in 22 games enabled Tampa Bay to finally pull
even in the duel for the league’s final playoff spot. The Rays, who
beat the New York Yankees 5-2, trailed by nine games after play on
Sept. 3.

With the score 2-all in the sixth inning, Boston starter Josh
Beckett (13-7) allowed four runs in an uprising that began with
Vladimir Guerrero becoming the career hits leader among
Dominican-born players.

Guerrero broke a tie with Julio Franco by bouncing a single up
the middle, his 2,587th career hit. The 36-year-old Guerrero then
stole second base, and after a two-out walk to Mark Reynolds, Chris
Davis broke his bat hitting a soft liner to right that brought home
the go-ahead run.

Robert Andino followed with a deep fly to center that Jacoby
Ellsbury had in his glove before crashing into the wall. Andino
sprinted around the bases and made it home as the relay throw
bounced past catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Boston loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Pedro
Strop struck out Saltalamacchia and retired Marco Scutaro on a
grounder.

Although Dustin Pedroia hit an RBI single in a run in the ninth,
the Red Sox stranded two runners and fell short in their bid to win
a second straight game for the first time since Aug. 27. Boston is
6-19 in September, the second-worst record in the majors behind the
Minnesota Twins. It’s also the Red Sox’s second worst September
ever with only a 4-18 mark in 1926 surpassing it according to STATS
LLC.

Jed Lowrie homered for the Red Sox, whose September swoon
includes four losses in five games against Baltimore.
Beckett allowed six runs and seven hits in six innings. The
right-hander won four straight decisions before losing to the
Orioles twice in six days.

Troy Patton (2-1) retired all five batters he faced after
entering for starter Tommy Hunter, who gave up one earned run in
five innings.

Boston placed runners on second and third with two outs in the
first before Hunter issued an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez
and retired Lowrie on a fly ball. The Red Sox bounced back with an
unearned run in the second on a two-out throwing error by rookie
left fielder Matt Angle.

Matt Wieters tied it in the bottom half with an opposite-field
drive into the left-field seats. Wieters has 21 homers this year
after totaling 20 in his first two big league seasons.
Lowrie led off the fourth with his sixth home run, the third
against Baltimore. Boston then got runners on the corners with two
outs before Nick Markakis made a sliding catch of Carl Crawford’s
sinking liner to right.

The Orioles drew even at 2 in the fifth on an RBI single by
Davis. But with the bases loaded and one out, Beckett retired J.J.
Hardy on a popup and struck out Markakis.

NOTES: Boston C Jason Varitek was a late scratch. He took a ball
off his left knee in Sunday’s second game against New York. He was
replaced by Saltalamacchia, who left in the eighth when struck near
the throat by a foul ball. … Baltimore manager Buck Showalter
received in-house treatment for an ankle injury early in the game
but was back by the second inning. … Ellsbury’s second-inning
double extended his hitting streak against Baltimore to 34 games,
longest by a Red Sox player against another team in the history of
the franchise. … Manager Terry Francona said he hasn’t decided
who will start Wednesday’s game. It could be 15-game winner Jon
Lester on three days rest. … Francona said 3B Kevin Youkilis
(sports hernia) is not closer to being ready to play. “He’s really
sore. We’re probably fighting an uphill battle,” Francona said.
… Former Oriole Erik Bedard (5-9) will pitch for the Red Sox on
Tuesday against rookie Zach Britton (11-10).

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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