BALTIMORE -- Mookie Betts single-handedly beat the Orioles on Tuesday night, homering twice and driving in all five of the Red Sox's runs in a 5-3 victory.
Betts' blasts give him seven homers in five games at Camden Yards this season and puts Boston -- winners of five straight -- a half-game back in the American League East in what should be a thrilling final month-and-a-half. Baltimore is tied with the Red Sox, with both teams chasing Toronto by one game. With identical 66-52 records, Boston and Baltimore occupy the top two spots in the AL Wild Card standings.
The latest power surge by Betts came just two days after his second three-homer game of the season. He has 28 homers, leading David Ortiz by one for the club lead. Betts is the first visiting player to hit seven homers in a season at Camden Yards.
"I'm just comfortable," said Betts. "I like it here in Baltimore, just hitting in this park and what not. Maybe that's the reason why."
Betts first went deep in the fifth inning, off Orioles starter Yovani Gallardo, hitting a three-run shot that broke a scoreless tie. After Baltimore tied the game in the seventh, on Matt Wieters' two-run single and Adam Jones' bases-loaded walk, Betts struck again.
This time, the homer came off of reliever Brad Brach, with Ortiz on and no outs in the eighth inning.
"Yovani pitched pretty well. He made one mistake and Brad made one mistake and we paid for it," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "But [Betts is] a good player. We shouldn't feel like he's picking on us."
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez held the Orioles hitless before exiting with hamstring tightness in the fifth. The O's didn't record their first hit until Steve Pearce's infield single in the seventh inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED E-Rod dominant, then hurt: Rodriguez had overpowering stuff before he left the game, striking out seven in his abbreviated performance. The lefty appeared to be getting stronger as the night went on, striking out the side in the fourth. It was a continuation for how well Rodriguez has pitched since his return from Triple-A after the All-Star break. In his last seven starts, Rodriguez has a 2.51 ERA. The Red Sox are hopeful E-Rod can make his next start.
"From last year to this year, that was the first time I felt like that," Rodriguez said. "Every pitch was right where I wanted -- the fastball, changeup, slider, two-seam. Everything was right where I wanted." More >
Gallardo lives on the edge, and gets burned: The O's righty issued five walks over his five innings and looked like he was going to be OK. But after a mini-ovation for striking out Ortiz in the fifth, Betts' two-out blast said otherwise.
"I think I just made a mistake," said Gallardo, who was hit on the right forearm with a liner earlier in the inning. "I was able to get that big strikeout there on Ortiz for that second out, and the first pitch, try to throw it away there to Betts and it kind of backed up. It backed up and I made a mistake and you know he's one of those hitters that he's going to hit mistakes. No excuses. No matter what, you've got to make a pitch and get out of that inning, especially after that big strikeout."
Pedroia's brilliant stab: With the team no-hitter still in progress, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia made the play of the game to end the sixth inning. Jonathan Schoop hit a looping liner up the middle and Pedroia extended himself fully, making a diving stab on the outfield grass and to the shortstop side of the base.
"Man, I just ran after it and caught it," said Pedroia. "I got a good jump on it and actually got to the right spot. It worked out for us." More >
Brach's second half scuffles: An All-Star who had a career year in the first half of the season, Brach has struggled to recapture that form. Tuesday was another example as the right-hander surrendered the two-run blow to Betts. Brach, who pitched to a 0.91 first-half ERA, has allowed runs in three of his past six outings.
"Probably thinking about it, talking about it too much and just not … yeah, honestly I don't know," Brach said of the difference in the second half. "I don't know what's different, just, like I said, probably just thinking about it too much, worrying about every single pitch that I've thrown instead of going out there and throwing like I know I can."
"Eddie's tough. We knew that when he was over there, and anytime you get a pitching change in the middle of the [fifth] inning, you've kind of have got to readjust, but we play nine innings. We weren't freaking out in the dugout. We just knew we had to put some hits together, and sometimes with this offense, it's better to get them in bunches than spread them out." -- Wieters, on the early no-hitter
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Betts is destroying the Orioles this season, hitting .426 (20-for-47) with 11 extra-base hits..
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Lefty David Price, who pitches Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game, hopes that he's saved his best pitching of the season for the stretch run. On Friday against the D-backs, Price gave up 10 hits but just three runs over eight innings in a win. In eight career starts at Camden Yards, Price is 4-0 with a 3.24 ERA.
Orioles: With ace Chris Tillman scratched due to shoulder discomfort, rookie Dylan Bundy will make the start on regular rest thanks to Monday's off-day. Bundy went 5 2/3 innings in his Friday start, taking the win against the Giants to improve to 6-3 on the year.