BALTIMORE -- First, there was the comeback. Then there was the letdown. And then there was one last surge back by the Red Sox, who once again demonstrated their resilience with a 10-8, 11-inning victory over the Orioles on Monday night at Camden Yards.
Andrew Benintendi belted a two-out, two-run single to right off Orioles reliever Miguel Castro for the go-ahead hit -- the one that finally stood up in this back-and-forth contest.
"I think that's the kind of team we have," said Benintendi. "We're never really out of it. We can put rallies together like that and score six runs like we did pretty quickly. Then our bullpen did a great job tonight. We're kind of used to these extra games now, so we know what it takes."
In danger of having their American League East lead cut to two games for the first time since Aug. 3, the 86-64 Sox instead maintained a three-game edge over the Yankees. They did so by overcoming an early 6-1 deficit to take the lead, only to trail again heading into the seventh and ultimately going ahead for good in 11th. Boston has a magic number of four to clinch a postseason berth and 10 to win the East. Meanwhile, Baltimore remains 5 1/2 games back of the Twins for the second AL Wild Card spot.
"Let's just focus on what we were able to do tonight," said center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. "We don't have to worry about them because of where we are and where they are, so we should focus on us and win ballgames. Our main focus is to continue to compete and play the game hard and win ballgames."
Down by five to start the fifth, the Sox furiously surged ahead with a six-run inning. The big hits were a two-run single by Brock Holt to slice the deficit to two runs and a three-run double into the corner in left by Mookie Betts to put Boston ahead for the first time all night. Bradley helped set up the knocks by Holt and Betts with an RBI single on a nine-pitch at-bat.
But the Orioles bounced right back in the bottom of the fifth. Pedro Alvarez tied it with a two-out, solo homer against Fernando Abad. Rafael Devers created another opportunity for Baltimore with his fourth error in the past four games on a grounder by Austin Hays that would have ended the inning. Tim Beckham followed with an RBI double, and Baltimore was back ahead at 8-7.
That didn't last long either. Xander Bogaerts ripped a solo shot in the seventh for the Red Sox to tie it up again. It was the first homer by Bogaerts since Aug. 25.
Benintendi's go-ahead hit snuck through the hole on the right side of the infield on a 2-2, 95.2-mph sinker by Castro, who took the loss.
"He's struggling a little bit to finish off good at-bats," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Castro. "He'll get ahead and then let the hitter get back in the count. He's had a lot of situations where the command of the fastball, he put somebody away after the changeup or the breaking ball. And he did that some."
"We've been challenged with that a lot, with putting guys away. We go from 0-2, 1-2 to 3-2 in a hurry."
It was a second straight tough start for Red Sox righty Doug Fister, who gave up four hits, five runs and five walks while striking out none in two-plus innings.
With a commanding lead, the Orioles thought they had the right guy on the mound in Dylan Bundy, who has been their most consistent starter. But he struggled, giving up seven hits and six runs in 4 1/3 innings.
"It was just that one inning," Bundy said. "I let things slip away from me. I didn't really limit the damage very well, obviously. I was just leaving balls over the middle of the plate and they made me pay for them."
Meanwhile, Boston's bullpen went nine innings and gave up two runs. Matt Barnes got the win and Carson Smith earned his first save since coming back from Tommy John surgery.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED JBJ throws out Alvarez: Alvarez hoped to jump-start a two-out rally for the Orioles when he smashed a slicing liner off the wall in left-center in the seventh. Bradley gathered it quickly and fired to second, where Bogaerts was able to tag Alvarez. According to Statcast™, the 212-foot throw was 95.9 mph. It was Bradley's sixth assist of the season.
"I knew it was going to go off the wall," said Bradley. "That ball was well hit. I thought I played it pretty well off the wall, I knew I had a chance. I just fired a strike to second."
Reed escapes: With runners at the corners and one out in a tie game in the eighth, Red Sox reliever Addison Reed had no margin for error. The righty came through, striking out Jonathan Schoop looking and getting Adam Jones on a hard grounder to short. It was the seventh consecutive scoreless outing for Reed, who is starting to settle in nicely as manager John Farrell's top setup man.
"I love it," said Reed. "I love being out there in high-stress situations. That's when I have the most fun. Obviously a clean 1-2-3 inning up by eight runs is also nice, but it's fun any time I'm out there on the mound, and if it's a tied game in the eighth inning, it's no different to me than if we're winning 4-0."
Lin's crucial walk: After second baseman Dustin Pedroia left the game in the fourth inning with a nasal contusion, Farrell wound up using five more players in the No. 2 spot in the batting order. The last of those players, Tzu-Wei Lin, worked a crucial, two-out walk in the 11th to cap an eight-pitch at-bat and set up Benintendi's go-ahead hit.
"He controlled the strike zone," said Farrell. "That was again the case here tonight. He didn't chase off the plate away. He didn't chase off in. He fouled off a couple of tough pitches and ends up working a walk. So, a quality at-bat on his part."
"It's very admirable what he went through. I know his teammates, really, you ask yourself, 'Could I have done that?' And he did. And it's great to see him get that opportunity. It's like the World Series for him, I'm sure." -- Showalter on Alvarez, who waited in Triple-A all season to get a chance in September
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Only the 1943 Red Sox had more extra-inning wins (15) than this year's team.
PAINFUL EXIT FOR PEDROIA
Pedroia's injury occurred when he fouled a ball into the ground and it caromed up and hit him in the face. He is day to day.
"He's sore. He was bleeding pretty good and that got him flush right square in the nose. By the end of the game he was back in the dugout so we'll see where he's at when he comes in [Tuesday]," said Farrell. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Red Sox: Left-hander Drew Pomeranz, who has been Mr. Consistency for the Red Sox since late May, goes after his 17th win when he pitches Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET middle game of the three-game series against the Orioles. In his past 21 starts, Pomeranz is 13-2 with a 2.74 ERA and has allowed more than three earned runs just three times over that span.
Orioles: The O's will send righty Kevin Gausman to the mound Tuesday against Boston. Gausman pitched seven quality innings and picked up the victory Wednesday vs. the Blue Jays, allowing one run on six hits and one walk while striking out six.