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O's feel the sting of Sox's late rally

O's feel the sting of Sox's late rally

BALTIMORE -- On Tuesday night, the Orioles staged the greatest comeback in team history, coming from nine runs down to shock the Red Sox.

On Wednesday, Boston returned the favor.

Trailing entering the top of the ninth inning, the Sox scored four runs off Orioles relievers Jim Johnson and George Sherrill to tie the game at 5, erasing a four-run deficit and what would've been Baltimore starter Brad Bergesen's sixth win of the season.

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Julio Lugo then hit an RBI single in the top of the 11th inning off pitcher Danys Baez, scoring Jacoby Ellsbury from third to give the Red Sox a 6-5 win and the series victory in the three-game set.

"It's very tough," Bergesen said after the game. "You'd love to get the win here and win the series and get on the plane and go to Anaheim, so it was a tough one today."

Johnson entered the game after Bergesen pitched eight solid innings, allowing just one run on four hits. After a leadoff walk to Dustin Pedroia, third baseman Kevin Youkilis hit a two-run home run, his 14th of the season, into the right-field stands to cut the Orioles' lead to 5-3.

Baltimore manager Dave Trembley then called for Sherrill, who got Jason Bay and David Ortiz to strike out. Things got dicey for Sherrill following Ortiz's at-bat. After he gave up a single to Ellsbury, Sherrill walked Jeff Bailey and Jason Varitek to load the bases. Varitek's free pass came on a controversial 3-2 call that both home-plate umpire Chris Guccione and first-base umpire Mike Winters said the Sox catcher didn't swing at.

Rocco Baldelli then lined a single straight up the middle of the infield, bringing home Ellsbury and Bailey. It was the first time Sherrill allowed multiple runs in a game since April 24.

After the Red Sox batted around, Pedroia popped up to Orioles catcher Gregg Zaun to end the threat, sending the game to the bottom of the ninth.

"A pitch was up to Ellsbury and he started it," Sherrill said. "I couldn't find the zone. I think Varitek went [on the 3-2 pitch]. I think everyone knew it but the two guys that mattered. I think it should've been over then. With that being said, you need to come back and put it behind you. I wasn't able to do that."

Ellsbury led off the 11th inning with a double down the left-field line, then advanced to third on a pop fly to right by Bailey. For the Orioles, it marked their second loss this season when leading after eight innings and their third defeat in extra-inning games.

Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon, who blew his first save against the Orioles in 21 attempts on Tuesday, picked up his 20th save of the season, passing Bob Stanley for the most career saves (133) by a Boston pitcher.

Despite the loss, the O's continued their offensive showcase from Tuesday night, scoring all five of their runs in the first four innings off Red Sox ace Josh Beckett, who lasted seven innings and gave up five runs on six hits. He also issued two walks and struck out five batters.

Felix Pie, who earned the start in center field after Adam Jones was given the day off to nurse soreness in his right side following a collision into the outfield wall on Tuesday, hit a single to left-center field to bring around Brian Roberts, who reached base on a walk, giving Baltimore an early 1-0 lead in the first.

The Orioles added another run in the second inning, when Luke Scott hit his team-leading 15th home run, a solo shot into the bullpen, to give Bergesen another run of support. The Red Sox cut the deficit in half after Pedroia doubled, driving in J.D. Drew from first base.

The Orioles responded right back, however. Nick Markakis hit a two-run double down the right-field line, which plated Roberts and Robert Andino to put the Orioles ahead, 4-1. Ty Wigginton added the team's fifth run with his sixth home run of the season, a line-drive shot into the left-field stands in the fourth. For Wigginton, the blast extended his hitting streak to 10 games.

"Any time you are talking about Josh Beckett, you know it's going to be a tough game, offensively," Wigginton said. "We were able to get a few runs off him early, and I think he started mixing his pitches and probably had better location."

From there, momentum shifted to the visiting Sox, who rallied behind Beckett to keep the Orioles off the scoreboard. The final 24 batters for Baltimore were retired by Beckett and Boston's bullpen. Bergesen outdueled Beckett every step, however, throwing 103 pitches in a no-decision.

In the end, however, it was about the leadoff runners. The Orioles' leadoff runner reached base and scored through the first four innings, but they were unable to reach base the remainder of the game. For the Sox, their leadoff man reached base just three times. In two of those innings, the ninth and 11th, Boston put runs on the board, and ultimately, it came away with its seventh straight series win.

"They did it late in the game when it counted," Trembley said. "You've got to give Beckett credit. He put a couple of zeros there. He went deep."

Brian Eller is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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