Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/30/12
BALTIMORE -- Nate McLouth, J.J. Hardy and Chris Davis all hit solo homers, and starter Joe Saunders threw 7 1/3 solid innings as the Orioles scored a 6-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox Sunday afternoon. The Orioles (92-67) moved one step closer to clinching their first playoff berth in 15 years. This victory dropped their magic number to one, and if the Angels lose one of their two games in Sunday's doubleheader in Texas, Baltimore clinches. McLouth homered to start the bottom of the first and give the Orioles a lead they never lost. Hardy and Davis both added lead-off homers in two other innings as Baltimore once more used the power that it has often leaned on this season. All of that offense gave Saunders (3-3) plenty of support. The left-hander gave up three runs and scattered eight hits. He also struck out five without a walk and needed just 90 pitches to get through his 7 1/3 innings. Darren O'Day came on to finish the eighth, and Jim Johnson came on in the ninth to close it for his 50th saves this season. The Orioles started quickly, scoring three runs on four hits in the bottom of the first off Boston starter Zach Stewart (0-2). McLouth led off with a homer to left-center on Stewart's fourth pitch to put the Orioles up, 1-0. Hardy and Davis followed with singles before Stewart hit Adam Jones to load the bases. Matt Wieters grounded into a double play, but Hardy scored the second run. Boston (69-90) then went into a shift against Jim Thome, a left-handed pull hitter. But Thome crossed the Red Sox up for the second time in the series by rolling a single to left field to make it 3-0. Hardy struck again in the third, as his lead-off homer to left put the Orioles in front 4-0. The Orioles added another run later in the inning on Thome's second RBI single, which ended Stewart's day. Stewart wound up allowing five runs on seven hits in those 2 2/3 innings. He's made three starts for the Red Sox this year, and opponents have scored 20 runs on 26 hits in just 11 1/3 innings. Cody Ross put Boston on the board with his solo homer off Saunders to start the fourth, cutting Baltimore's lead to 5-1. Danny Valencia got a one-out single moments later, but Ryan Lavarnway grounded into an inning-ending double play. Boston cut the lead to 6-3 in seventh when Daniel Nava hit a two-run homer off Saunders, but the Red Sox couldn't do anything else as Baltimore completed the series sweep. NOTES: Orioles closer Johnson became the 10th pitcher to reach 50 saves in a season since the save became an official baseball statistic in 1969. Johnson had already set an Orioles record -- breaking the old one of 45 that Randy Myers set in 1997 -- and made the All-Star team back in July...Adam Jones was presented with the Most Valuable Oriole Award before Sunday's game. Jones also won the honor in 2011, an award voted on by the media that cover the Orioles on a regular basis. Jones also made the All-Star team earlier this season...Ross has been on a roll against left-handed pitchers recently. After the fourth-inning homer against Saunders, 11 of his last 31 hits versus the lefties have been homers...The Red Sox finished with a 5-13 record against the Orioles this season. The last time Boston lost at least 12 games to Baltimore in one season came in 1970, when the Orioles held a 13-5 edge en route to their World Series title that year.
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