BALTIMORE -- They weren't able to get starter Jeremy Guthrie the personal "W" his record so sorely deserves. But the Orioles, who watched a four-run lead wilt away in the eighth inning, made sure Guthrie's efforts against a Red Sox team that has historically dominated him wouldn't be in vain.
Vladimir Guerrero's two-out RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning held up as the decisive blow in a 5-4 series-clinching victory over Boston on Wednesday that helped take the sting out of a pair of tough losses to the New York Yankees.
"It's a big deal for us," Luke Scott said of Orioles' first two wins of the series. "[Losing the four-run lead is] a huge swing of emotions. ... For about 30 seconds, we were like, 'Oh that [stinks].' But the guys were positive and optimistic in the dugout, and we got back after it and said, 'Let's have some quality at-bats and try to put some runs on the board.'"
Scott was responsible for the first runs of the game as the Orioles (10-12) were able to rattle Red Sox starter Josh Beckett, who had been dominant in his previous three starts, two outs into the fourth inning. Capitalizing on Jacoby Ellsbury's miscue in center, which allowed Derrek Lee's popup to drop in for a double, Scott blasted a 1-0 pitch 426 feet onto Eutaw Street. Scott, who was the last Orioles player to hit a ball that landed over the right-field wall on Sept. 1, 2009, flipped his bat and trotted around the basepaths as Beckett glared at him from the hill.
"When I got in the dugout, the guys said he was yelling or something like that. Staring," said Scott, who is known for excessive celebrations following a home run. "I have all the respect in the world for Josh Beckett. He's one of the best pitchers in the game."
Three pitches later, Adam Jones completed the back-to-back shots with a ball that just barely cleared the left-field wall, and Beckett, who also spoke with home-plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth, was seen yelling in the direction of the Orioles' dugout as he walked off the mound.
"Is this TMZ? I thought we were talking about a baseball game," Beckett said when reporters asked about the events that transpired after Scott's homer. "You want to know about bat-flips and talking to umpires. I think we should probably just stick to the game. I thought we did a good job battling back, and we came up one run short."
When asked again about Scott's tossing of his bat and slow pace circling the bases, Beckett was equally dismissive.
"That's not my deal," Beckett said. "Those things have a way of working themselves out."
Beckett, who was tagged with a season-high four runs on seven hits over six innings, was taken off the hook for the loss thanks to a four-run frame from his offense. After Guthrie (1-3) exited with six scoreless innings, his fourth quality start in five games, the Orioles turned to reliever Jeremy Accardo, who turned in a scoreless seventh. But a leadoff eight-inning single and a walk gave way to lefty specialist Clay Rapada, and the southpaw lasted just one batter, surrendering an RBI single to Adrian Gonzalez to force manager Buck Showalter to dip into the bullpen again. Right-hander Koji Uehara entered with no outs and a pair of runners on base, and Kevin Youkilis tied things up with one swing, sending Uehara's pitch into the left-field seats.
With the score tied at 4, the Orioles opened the bottom of the eighth with a pair of singles off Red Sox reliever Daniel Bard, and both Nick Markakis and Lee advanced on his wild pitch with Vladimir Guerrero at the plate. Bard's 1-1 offering also scooted by catcher Jason Varitek, and a hustling Markakis was tagged out on a headfirst dive into the plate as Bard put the tag down just in time. But Guerrero picked his team up, lacing an RBI single into center field to score Lee and give the Orioles the lead for good.
"That's my thing," Guerrero said with batting practice pitcher Rudy Arias translating. "I get men on base, and that's something I look forward to."
Guerrero is 6-for-19 with eight RBIs with runners in scoring position, and Baltimore's designated hitter initially thought Bard was going to take advantage of the open base and intentionally walk him.
"I was trying to go up, in with a four-seamer," Bard said of the 1-1 fastball. "[I] pulled it. It was belt-high, [and] middle."
And Guerrero didn't miss, helping a scuffling Orioles offense make sure they didn't squander the second consecutive solid pitching performance.
"The game's not always fair, but Jeremy was outstanding," Showalter said of Guthrie, who is winless since Opening Day.
Guthrie scattered seven hits and a walk, finishing with six strikeouts and exiting on account of a high-pitch count, which reached 111 after retiring J.D. Drew on a fly ball. The Red Sox are notorious for working pitchers, and Wednesday's frequent deep counts was no exception. But Guthrie, who entered the game 1-7 with a 4.95 ERA in his career against Boston, gladly took the double-digit foul balls over the alternative.
"They usually hit them further, so if they're going backwards or straight up, we'll take it," said Guthrie, who has allowed two earned runs or less in four of his five starts.
"He threw the [heck] out of the ball," Jones said. "I wish we could've gotten him a 'W.'"
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.