BOSTON (AP) — Yenier Cano retired Enmanuel Valdéz on a game-ending flyout that stranded the tying run on third as Boston’s ninth-inning rally fell short, and the Baltimore Orioles hung on to beat the Red Sox 13-12 Saturday behind a pair of James McCann home runs for their seventh straight win.
Closing in on its first postseason berth in seven years, the Orioles opened leads of 7-2 in the fourth, 12-6 in the seventh and 13-9 in the ninth as Aaron Hicks and rookie Gunnar Henderson hit three-run homers and Jordan Westburg had a solo shot.
“It was just one of those days. It’s like a heavyweight boxing match. Every time we threw up some runs, they found a way,” McCann said.
Boston, which outhit the Orioles 23-14, closed in the ninth on Trevor Story's two-run, two-out double and Wilyer Abreu's RBI single before Cano hit a flyout to left that Austin Hays caught well in front of the Green Monster.
Baltimore (90-51) won for the 13th time in 16 games and became the first AL team to reach 90 wins, maintaining a four-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the AL East. Shintaro Fujinami (7-8) pitched 1 2/3 innings.
“I feel like every time I come here it’s one of those games — a lot of runs and constant back-and-forth, a lot of fighting going on,” Hicks said.
Boston (72-70) dropped seven games behind Toronto for the AL's last wild-card berth and also is 5 1/2 games back of Texas.
“We had a chance. We had one swing to win that game. Loved the effort. Loved the at-bats,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said.
In a game that started 1 hour, 32 minutes late because of rain, McCann hit a two-run homer in the fourth off Chris Sale (6-4) and a solo drive in the sixth against Zack Weiss, who gave up Westburg's homer on his next pitch.
Henderson's seventh-inning homer off Mauricio Lovera raised his season total to 24.
Fenway Park was filled with orange-clad Orioles fans, who haven’t seen their club in the postseason since 2016 and have gone without an AL East title since 2014.
Justin Turner hit a two-run homer in the first off Jack Flaherty, who gave up five runs — four earned — and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings. Flaherty is 1-2 in six starts since he was acquired from St. Louis for Baltimore's playoff push.
“I can’t pitch any worse than I have. First time out was good. Since then, it's been a little bit up and down.” Flaherty said, “It's going to get better. I'm going to figure it out.”
Sale allowed seven runs — six earned — and six hits in four innings. The 34-year-old left-hander was coming off his first win since May 26, ending a stretch in which he was 0-1 in five starts.
“We’re putting guys in situations that are really, really tough now as far as usage,” Cora said. “We’re all-in and we’re trying, which is the most important thing. Nobody’s quitting here. It was good to see the guys trying so hard and picking each other up.”
The game was delayed for a few moments in the fourth when a beach ball bounced from the seats down to left field, where Hays delivered a two-footed stomp with his spikes that popped the ball and drew boos from some fans. After disposing of the ball's remains, Hays robbed Verdugo with a diving catch on a sinking drive that would have been extra bases and multiple RBIs.
Orioles: LHP John Means (Tommy John surgery) threw a bullpen session Saturday. Manager Brandon Hyde said Means felt good but wasn’t ready to offer a time when Means could join the rotation and pitch again for the first time since his April 2022 injury.
Red Sox: Weiss was recalled from Worcester and LHP Brandon Walter was optioned to the Triple-A team. Boston claimed Weiss off waivers from the Los Angeles Angels on Aug. 25 and he made his debut for the Red Sox when he took over for Sale to start the fifth.
Orioles RHP Brayson Rodriguez (5-3, 4.91 ERA) is scheduled to face RHP Brayan Bello (11-8, 3.61) in Sunday's series finale.
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