This is how badly things are going for the Boston Red Sox: Two singles and a liner to the gap in right-center turns into a 1-2-3 inning for the opposition.
The Baltimore Orioles put on a dazzling defensive display Wednesday night in a 5-2 victory over the Red Sox, whose struggles this season could be summed up nicely during an unfortunate second inning.
Xander Bogaerts hit a liner off the center-field wall that Adam Jones snagged with his bare hand before throwing out the runner at second base. Pablo Sandoval followed with a single to left and was thrown out at second by Travis Snider. Jones then made a fine running catch of a liner by Mookie Betts.
Three up, three down the hard way.
"They did a great job defensively," Boston manager John Farrell conceded. "They cut down a couple of guys at second base, but still, any time we mounted a little bit of an offensive threat, they answered right back."
The Red Sox scored their runs in the third and sixth innings. Each time, Baltimore responded in the bottom half.
Most notably, after Boston closed to 3-2, the Orioles chased Red Sox starter Rick Porcello with a two-run outburst that essentially decided the issue.
"To me the entire game came down to the sixth inning," Porcello said. "We got a run to cut (the deficit) down to one, then I couldn't put up a zero."
Dustin Pedroia had two hits and scored twice for the last-place Red Sox, who have lost nine of their last 10 road games. David Ortiz did not play, mostly because of his .114 batting average against left-handed pitchers.
Porcello (4-6) gave up five runs and 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings in losing his fourth straight start. In three appearances against Baltimore this year, he's 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA.
J.J. Hardy had two RBIs for the Orioles, who will attempt to complete a three-game sweep on Thursday night. Baltimore is 6-3 against Boston this season, 4-1 at home.
Wei-Yin Chen (2-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. The left-hander had only one win in his 11 previous starts despite carrying a solid 3.18 ERA.
In this one, the Baltimore defense gave him all the backing he needed. Not only did Jones shine in the second inning, but he also made an outstanding diving catch in the fifth to again rob Betts.
"I can only say that it wasn't one of my best days," Chen said through an interpreter. "My teammates played fantastic defense behind me, like Jonesy's plays."
Darren O'Day struck out four during two perfect innings to earn his second save.
After denying Boston in the second inning, the Orioles went up 2-0 in their half. After pull-hitter Chris Davis beat the shift with a bunt down the third-base line, Hardy hit an RBI double and scored on a single by Ryan Flaherty.
Brock Holt got Boston to 2-1 with an RBI double in the third, but Jones responded with a run-scoring single in the bottom half.
Pedroia doubled and scored in the sixth before Baltimore used an RBI single by Snider and a sacrifice fly by Hardy to chase Porcello.