BALTIMORE — Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run homer after Boston scored two runs on a throwing error during a five-run sixth inning as the Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Boston (88-64) now has won seven consecutive games, including the first three in this crucial four-game series.
Baltimore (82-70) slipped to six games behind the Red Sox in the American League East, missing a chance to tie Toronto (83-69) for second place as the Blue Jays lost in Seattle earlier.
The Orioles led 1-0 when starter Ubaldo Jimenez (7-12) was pulled with two on and one out in the sixth. Brad Brach gave up an infield single to Aaron Hill and then struck out Jackie Bradley Jr. before Sandy Leon hit a grounder to Chris Davis.
The first baseman fielded it and then tried to throw the ball to Brach covering to end the inning. Instead, he fired it past the pitcher. That let in two runs, and Benintendi crushed his three-run homer on the following pitch and gave the Red Sox a 5-1 lead.
That was Benintendi’s second major-league home run. He made his major-league debut on Aug. 2.
Home runs have carried Boston in this series. The Red Sox have scored 11 of their 15 runs in the first three games via the long ball.
The Orioles, who often live off power, have scored just five runs in three games.
Boston starter Clay Buchholz (8-10) kept the Orioles quiet during his seven-inning stint. He allowed just one run and three hits with four strikeouts and two walks and worked his way out of a few jams.
Jimenez allowed two unearned runs and four hits in his 5 1/3 innings. He struck out eight but walked four, a big reason the right-hander often found himself in trouble.
The Orioles, normally, a solid defensive team, committed three errors overall, with the Davis miscue proving most costly.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the third. Clay Buchholz retired the first six batters before Baltimore loaded the bases with no outs. Adam Jones’ sacrifice fly to left field plated Jonathan Schoop, who began the rally with a bloop single.
Boston loaded the bases in the first and fourth innings, but Jimenez escaped without giving up a run both times. The Red Sox stranded five in the first five innings as Baltimore held the early one-run lead.
NOTES: Orioles manager Buck Showalter said that RHP Yovani Gallardo and LHP Wade Miley will start the first two games of this weekend’s series against Arizona. No word yet on Sunday’s starter. … Showalter also said he had fun watching everything involved with rookie DH Trey Mancini’s first major league hit being a home run in Tuesday’s loss. “It was fun for him,” Showalter said. “That was a highlight of last night.” … Boston 2B Dustin Pedroia returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game for treatments on his left knee. “He responded well,” manager John Farrell said. … Red Sox 1B Hanley Ramirez was not in the starting lineup because of his sore left shoulder. Farrell also said the first baseman is having other aches and pains, and a night off was the best medicine.