Orioles-Red Sox Preview
By SANTOSH VENKATARAMAN
(AP) -- The Baltimore Orioles have gotten production from their slumping No. 8 hitter and stellar work from their bullpen to move within a game of a rare sweep at Fenway Park.
The Orioles hope those trends continue Sunday as they try for their first three-game road sweep of the Boston Red Sox in nearly 18 years.
Baltimore (18-9) is on the verge of completing a 5-1 trip through Yankee Stadium and Fenway. After losing the opener at New York, the Orioles have matched their longest win streak of the season.
"These last few years teams have always taken advantage of us," center fielder Adam Jones said. "Now, we've got a series, but I think we need to sweep. We need to be hungry, keep the momentum going."
Manager Buck Showalter's bullpen has not allowed a run over its last 21 innings, including 16 on this trip. Baltimore's relievers yielded three hits over eight innings in Friday's 6-4, 13-inning victory and added 2 1-3 more in Saturday's 8-2 rout to lower their major league-best ERA to 1.52.
Mark Reynolds came to Fenway batting .136 with no homers and three RBIs for the season. The No. 8 hitter has homered in both games of this series, adding a double in each and driving in five runs.
The Orioles last swept three games in Boston from June 10-12, 1994. The Red Sox (11-15) have lost four straight overall and nine of 10 at home.
Baltimore should be looking forward to facing Clay Buchholz (3-1, 8.69 ERA), who has the highest ERA in the majors among qualifying pitchers but also leads all starters with a 10.86 run support average.
Buchholz could also be eager to face the Orioles since he's 2-1 with a 1.33 ERA in four career home starts against them, including a no-hitter. He's 5-3 with a 3.26 ERA against Baltimore overall.
Reynolds has a double and four strikeouts in six at-bats against the right-hander and Matt Wieters - 8 for 20 with six runs scored on this trip - is 6 for 14 versus Buchholz.
Buchholz gave up six runs over 6 2-3 innings to get credit for Monday's 11-6 win over Oakland.
The Red Sox could use some innings out of Buchholz after Aaron Cook lasted 2 2-3 Saturday, suffering a cut on his left knee in the second inning and staying in the game as Boston fell behind 8-0 in the third.
David Ortiz and Mike Aviles have combined for 17 hitless at-bats and three walks in this series.
"We've just got to come back and play better," Ortiz said. "It's not magical."
Adrian Gonzalez has been the hitting star in this series for the Red Sox by going 6 for 10 to break out of an 0-for-17 slump.
Baltimore will start Tommy Hunter (2-1, 4.26), who is 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in his last six road outings. He's 1-1 with a 9.00 ERA in three career starts at Fenway.
The right-hander has pitched well in his last two outings, yielding three runs over 13 innings at home. He went seven and surrendered two runs last Sunday and did not get a decision in a 5-2 win over Oakland, and will have an extra day of rest after having an ingrown toenail removed.
Updated May 5, 2012