Oh Darn! Red Sox drop 17-inning marathon

Oh Darn! Red Sox drop 17-inning marathon

Oh Darn! Red Sox drop 17-inning marathon
BOSTON -- By the end of a wild Sunday at Fenway Park, the Red Sox were simply out of pitchers. So position player Darnell McDonald tried to act like one and give his team an uplifting end to a tough homestand.

It was not to be. Adam Jones belted a three-run homer off McDonald -- the ninth pitcher of the day for Boston -- lifting Baltimore to a 9-6 victory in 17 innings.

Fenway Park, which is celebrating birthday No. 100 this season, has probably never seen a game quite like this.

The teams combined to use 18 pitchers, a Fenway record. Not only was a position player (McDonald) the losing pitcher, but a position player (Chris Davis) was the winning pitcher. Davis became the first American League position player to win a game since Rocky Colavito did so for the Yankees in 1968.

The way things are going for the Red Sox, they couldn't be in any mood to take in history. Not even on a day when seven of their relievers pitched 12 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run in place of a shaky Clay Buchholz.

"I wish. I wish," said McDonald. "But this was a game that we needed to win. Especially, we've got to start winning our home games. Especially playing a divisional opponent. So, I think, I'm disappointed. We've got to go on the road and pick it up."

The Red Sox, who were known to torment teams at Fenway Park in recent years, have lost 10 of their last 11 games at home. Overall, manager Bobby Valentine's team has lost five in a row as it embarks on a short three-game road trip to Kansas City.

"I don't like any losses," said Valentine. "I've never found a loss that I thought was easy. They're all difficult."

This one -- which took six hours and seven minutes to play -- was especially difficult, particularly when it came inches from being a win.

Davis, who had a horrific day at the plate (0-for-8, five strikeouts), came on in the 16th and nearly pitched a 1-2-3 inning. But Marlon Byrd reached on an error by third baseman Wilson Betemit, giving the Red Sox some hope.

Mike Aviles raked a double to left-center and Byrd motored around from first. Jones made the relay throw to shortstop J.J. Hardy, and the throw to the plate was perfect. So instead of being mobbed by a walk-off pile at home plate, Byrd was out by inches.

"I was out. That's it," said Byrd. "Just run as hard as you can. All I was doing was looking at the third-base coach and hoping I was going to score."

Even after Jones had put the Orioles up by three with his rocket, the Red Sox hoped they could rally against Davis in their half of the 17th.

Ryan Sweeney led off with a single. Dustin Pedroia drew a walk. Adrian Gonzalez struck out, capping his 0-for-8 afternoon, the first by an AL cleanup hitter since the Indians' Andre Thornton in 1984.

Fittingly, McDonald stepped to the plate, hoping for a three-run homer that would avenge what he'd given up from the mound, but he hit into a game-ending double play.

"I don't know what's worse, giving up a three-run home run or grounding into a double play to end the game," McDonald said. "[Davis] got the win, and hat's off to him."

"That was fun," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "It was a long day. You'd like to get something good out of it."

With the loss, the Red Sox were swept by the Orioles in Boston for the first time since June 10-12, 1994. And that's how this 1-5 homestand ended for the struggling Sox.

"I mean, we play hard," Pedroia said. "We've just got to find a way to win. That's it."

The last time the O's pulled off a Fenway sweep, Will Middlebrooks was 5 years old. But Boston's prized prospect is coming of age now, and he's the one who gave the Red Sox some life on Sunday after hitting his first career homer, clubbing a grand slam in the bottom of the fifth to tie the score at 5.

"You know, it's a a great game to come back in," Valentine said. "You're down, our young player got a grand slam home run to tie it up. We have guys pitching their hearts out out of the bullpen. We just couldn't get that other run across."

All the mid- to late-inning drama took place after Clay Buchholz had put the Red Sox in a quick hole with his sixth consecutive subpar start. The righty gave up three home runs -- two of which were solo shots by Hardy.

A three-run homer by frequent Red Sox tormenter Robert Andino in the top of the fourth deflated the Fenway faithful and gave Baltimore a five-run lead.

Buchholz became the first Red Sox starter since Red Ruffing in 1925 to give up five earned runs or more in six consecutive starts.

"I've got to find something," Buchholz said. "I think once a good five, six, seven innings comes out, it'll be something to build off of. For the past six starts, it's been a big inning. I can't minimize the damage right now. I've got to figure out a way to do that."

Buchholz lasted just 3 2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and five runs. He walked four and struck out four.

Sweeney reduced the deficit to four runs in the fourth with a single up the middle that scored Aviles in the.

The fifth-inning rally that got the Red Sox right back in the game started innocently enough, as David Ortiz and Cody Ross led off with singles. Jarrod Saltalamacchia walked to load the bases. Up stepped Middlebrooks, and he hammered the first pitch he saw from Orioles starter Tommy Hunter into the parking lot behind the Green Monster.

Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.