BALTIMORE — The Boston Red Sox, and Clay Buccholz in particular, put on a good show for three members of the team ownership committee who ventured to Camden Yards to get a firsthand look at their struggling ballclub.
Buchholz shook off a rocky start to earn his 11th win, Dustin Pedroia singled in the tiebreaking run in the sixth inning and the Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 Thursday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
Principal owner John Henry, chairman Thomas Werner and president and CEO Larry Lucchino were all in attendance following a rough stretch in which Boston lost six of eight to bring up questions surrounding the job security of first-year manager Bobby Valentine.
The trio visited the clubhouse before the game and showed up again afterward.
“They said they were bringing us luck,” Valentine said. “After we started (behind) 2-0, I was looking for an early flight home.”
After giving up three runs and six hits over the first two innings, Buchholz (11-3) kept the Orioles at bay while the Red Sox rebounded from a 3-1 deficit. The right-hander ended up allowing three runs, eight hits and three walks over eight innings. He struck out seven.
“He brought the competitive spirit to a new level tonight,” Valentine said. “They were jumping on his early pitches, he got down early. But when he saw we had some resiliency in our offense, he shut the door. He shut it quick.”
Buchholz was delighted to perform so well for the men who sign his paycheck.
“They are the ones that put the team together,” he said. “It was good to see those guys here. It added motivation. They’ve got busy lives, so they could have been somewhere else. Instead, they were here showing us they were behind us and supporting us.”
Alfredo Aceves worked a perfect ninth for his 24th save.
Adrian Gonzalez had two RBIs and Cody Ross chipped in with three hits for Boston. Serving as designated hitter for the first time this season, Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 4 to end his 38-game hitting streak against Baltimore.
Mark Reynolds homered and Adam Jones had two RBIs for the Orioles, now 8-4 against Boston this season. Reynolds has four homers in his last six games after going 20 straight without one.
Despite the loss, Baltimore finished 7-3 on a homestand against Seattle, Kansas City and the Red Sox.
“Our guys wanted to win all 10. That’s the way we approached it,” manager Buck Showalter said. “Tonight they took advantage of some of our pitching struggles.”
The Red Sox took a 6-3 lead with a three-run sixth against Luis Ayala (4-4). With runners at the corners and two outs, Pedroia hit a short chopper toward third that a charging Manny Machado couldn’t handle. Gonzalez and Ross followed with run-scoring singles.
Before the game, talk in the Boston clubhouse centered around Ellsbury, a fixture in the Boston outfield playing DH for the first time since July 18, 2011. Valentine said, “The last couple days we have been concerned about a leg situation. This is just being overcautious and aware of the situation.”
Ellsbury, however, said, “My leg feels good. I played the last two nights on it.”
Coming in, Orioles starter Chris Tillman had allowed 24 runs this season – 14 in the first inning. After striking out Ellsbury to begin the game, Tillman gave up a one-out double to Carl Crawford before retiring Pedroia and Gonzalez.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the bottom half. Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy singled before Jones hit an opposite-field, two-run double inside the first base line.
Boston got a run in the second on a two-out RBI single by Scott Podsednik.
Reynolds homered on the first pitch in the Orioles’ half with a drive to center. It was an uncharacteristic start for Buchholz, who didn’t allow more than two runs in any of his previous five outings and had a 1.15 ERA over that span.
“Clay had a rough time early, then after that he threw a gem,” Ross said.
The Red Sox pulled even in the fifth. Crawford singled, took third on a double by Pedroia and scored on a wild pitch. Gonzalez followed with a sacrifice fly to chase Tillman, who threw 110 pitches in 4 2-3 innings.
“You’ve got to tip your hat a little bit to Boston; they really made (Tillman) work for everything,” Showalter said. “They had a lot of foul balls. He had a lot of counts in his favor but he couldn’t finish hitters off.”