Red Sox-Orioles Preview
By JEFF BARTL
(AP) -- The Boston Red Sox may be on a roll, but they haven't had much success against the Baltimore Orioles lately.
Boston looks to avoid an eighth loss in nine meetings with AL East-leading Baltimore when the division rivals open a three-game set at Camden Yards on Monday night.
The Red Sox (20-21) have won eight of 10 after beating Philadelphia 5-1 on Sunday, getting a homer from Mike Aviles to lead off the game and a three-run shot from Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
Boston's surge comes after it lost eight of nine to start the month. With a victory Monday, the Red Sox can return to the .500 mark for the first time since they finished April 11-11. They have not owned a winning record at any point this season.
Aviles is batting .400 with three homers during a six-game hitting streak that has raised his season average 21 points to .275. His eight homers on the season are two shy of his career high of 10, set as a rookie with Kansas City in 2008.
"I just try to put the ball in play, try to hit the ball up the middle and whatever happens, happens," Aviles said. "I'm just trying to get on base."
Boston's slump to open May included a three-game sweep to Baltimore at Fenway Park from May 4-6. The Orioles (27-15) have won seven of the last eight meetings with the Red Sox including the 2011 season finale that knocked Boston out of postseason contention.
Baltimore had its five-game winning streak snapped with a 9-3 loss to Washington on Sunday, scoring fewer than four runs for only the second time in 10 games. The Orioles also failed to get an extra-base hit for just the second time in 19 contests despite chasing Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg after the fifth due to a high pitch count.
"If you came in today thinking you'd get their starting pitcher out of the game after five innings, you'd like your chances," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Showalter's club will now look to bounce back against Red Sox starter Clay Buchholz (4-2, 7.77 ERA), who hasn't been shy about allowing runs this season.
Buchholz's ERA is the worst in baseball, but his 8.80 run support average is more than a run higher than any other pitcher in the majors. The lineup didn't produce enough for him to earn another victory Wednesday despite his steadiest start of the season. Buchholz gave up two runs in five innings of a 2-1 loss to Tampa Bay, marking the first time in eight starts he allowed fewer than three runs.
The right-hander didn't receive any support when he gave up five runs and walked four in 3 2-3 innings of Boston's 9-6 loss in 17 innings to Baltimore on May 6. Buchholz is 0-1 with a 7.84 ERA in his last two starts versus the Orioles after going 3-0 with a 0.32 ERA in his previous four against them.
Tommy Hunter (2-2, 4.78) opposed Buchholz in the 17-inning marathon, allowing five runs in 4 1-3 innings, and is 2-1 with a 7.02 ERA in seven career starts versus Boston.
The right-hander started another lengthy contest Wednesday, allowing two runs in seven innings of Baltimore's eventual 4-3, 15-inning victory over Kansas City.
Orioles outfielder Adam Jones, batting .353 with six homers during a 12-game hitting streak, hit the game-winning home run in each of those extra-inning contests. He's batting .316 with three homers in his last eight games against the Red Sox, getting at least one hit in seven of them.
Updated May 21, 2012