Thanks to rally, O's stay two back in Wild Card hunt
Valencia hits leadoff triple in ninth, Wieters' sac fly scores winning run
By Jason Mastrodonato / 9/18/2013 12:28 AM ET
BOSTON -- Chris Davis had already tied the game with a mammoth shot over the center-field wall, his 51st homer of the season, a significant number as it set a new record in Orioles history.
But not even Davis could snap the O's out of their horrific streak of hitting with runners in scoring position. Davis couldn't do it, and neither would Adam Jones nor Nick Markakis behind him. None of them could cash in on a second-and-third, no-out situation with the game tied in the eighth inning against the Red Sox on Tuesday night.
The red-hot Danny Valencia made sure none of that mattered.
Valencia led off the ninth inning against Red Sox closer and former Orioles reliever Koji Uehara, who had retired 37 consecutive batters, with a triple to deep center field. Matt Wieters then brought home pinch-runner Alexi Casilla with a sacrifice fly to right field and the Orioles completed a thrilling 3-2 comeback win.
The win kept the Orioles two games back of the Rays and Rangers in the American League Wild Card chase.
"Every game at this point is very important," Valencia said during an on-field interview with NESN after the game. "To come out and sneak a win here late, off a great pitcher, it's big."
Valencia had spent part of last season in the opposing clubhouse at Fenway Park. He hit just .143 with a .388 OPS in limited action with the Red Sox in 2012 before he was traded to the Orioles for cash considerations.
"Sometimes an opportunity [is what] they need," manager Buck Showalter said. "He's running with it and has gotten some good matchups. He's not trying to do too much. He's a strong young man who I really like how he's fit in to the environment and culture. You can tell it's about winning games with Danny right now. The heck what it means for him next year."
In 40 games this year, Valencia owns a .320 average with 22 extra-base hits and a .988 OPS. Showalter said he has no choice but to ride the hot hand with the Orioles chasing a playoff spot.
"The one thing that Valencia's always been is a very aggressive hitter," said Red Sox manager John Farrell, "and he gets a pitch near the strike zone. He's been a hot hitter of late. Even with the right-handed starter, typically they're going to go with a left-handed DH. But as well as he's been swinging the bat, they go with him and it paid off for them."
Valencia's big hit in the ninth helped overshadow some blemishes that could've cost the Orioles the win.
Baltimore made three errors and struggled to convert baserunners into runs. The Orioles left at least one man on base in five innings, going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Over their past 23 games, they're hitting .209 (37-for-171) with RISP.
"We knew we had our work cut out for us when we came here, and we still have two games left against [the Red Sox] here, then they come to our place," Davis said. "We have a lot of baseball left against these guys."
Scott Feldman nibbled his way around the patient Red Sox lineup and attacked when he needed to. He allowed just two hits over five innings, and while he also walked a career-high six batters, a pair of timely double plays left him off the hook with just one earned run. Over his past seven starts, Feldman has allowed just 28 hits while posting a 1.77 ERA.
Feldman, who was acquired from the Cubs on July 2, allowed a leadoff homer to Dustin Pedroia in the first, walked Shane Victorino in the following plate appearance and then got David Ortiz to ground into a double play to kill the rally.
After loading the bases in the fourth inning, Feldman again got a double-play ball, this one off the bat of Pedroia, to escape with the Red Sox in front, 2-0.
"I'm thinking I was pretty fortunate," Feldman said. "Usually when you walk that many guys, things don't usually go in your favor. It was one of those nights I felt maybe the baseball gods were on our side. We've had some tough games over the course of the year. We'll take them anyway we can get them."