BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles knew all along that this four-game series against Boston would go a long way toward determining their status in the playoff hunt.

Having lost the first three games in distressing fashion, the Orioles can pretty much shift their focus toward the wild card race.

A throwing error by first baseman Chris Davis provided the Red Sox with five unearned runs and doomed the Orioles to a 5-1 defeat Wednesday night.

Andrew Benintendi hit a three-run homer for the Red Sox, who will seek to complete a sweep on Thursday. Boston pulled five games ahead of Toronto and dropped the Orioles six games back with 10 games remaining.

“It’s definitely not the position we want to be in,” Davis said. “We just haven’t been able to get the runs when we need them and have kind of put ourselves behind the 8-ball right now.”

The loss kept Baltimore a game behind the Blue Jays for the top AL wild card. The Orioles have lost five of seven, all at home, and scored only nine runs in their last five games.

Though the Orioles are struggling, they still control their own fate in the wild card chase.

“They’ll get it going here,” manager Buck Showalter said. “If we can get in, I feel real good about this group.”

Boston trailed 1-0 before rallying against All-Star reliever Brad Brach, who replaced Ubaldo Jimenez (7-12) with two on and one out in the sixth. Aaron Hill hit a dribbler in front of the mound and beat the throw to first base following a miscommunication between Brach and catcher Matt Wieters.

That loaded the bases for Jackie Bradley Jr., who struck out on a 3-2 pitch. Sandy Leon then hit a sharp grounder toward Davis, who rushed an off-balance throw that whisked past Brach, allowing two runs to score.

“Obviously just didn’t make a very good throw on it,” Davis said. “Probably a ball I could’ve stayed back on and just gone to the bag, but I just reacted and when I went to throw, it just kind of stuck in my hand.”

Said Brach: “I was just heading over to the bag, and when I picked up (sight) of the ball it was just coming a little hard to me and a little bit out of my reach.”

Benintendi hit the next pitch over the wall in right field.

“It’s frustrating when they don’t get a ball past first base, 90 feet away, and two runs score,” Brach said. “And obviously I need to make a better pitch on the next batter.”

Benintendi hit the next pitch over the wall in right field.

That all but assured the Red Sox their 12th win in 15 games. They have also won seven of eight on the road.

“We were given a gift,” Boston manager John Farrell said, “and we did take every advantage of that extra out.”

Clay Buchholz (8-10) allowed one run and three hits over seven innings for the Red Sox. Boston’s seven-game winning streak, which began with a sweep of the Yankees, is its longest since an identical run early in the 2014 season.

After the Red Sox loaded the bases in the first inning but failed to score, the Orioles capitalized on the same situation in the third when Adam Jones hit a sacrifice fly.

Boston again filled the bases in the fourth before Leon bounced into a 3-6-1 double play.

The next time the Red Sox loaded the bases, two innings later, they finally came through — albeit with a little help from Davis.


Red Sox: 2B Dustin Pedroia was back in the lineup after being held out Tuesday to get treatment on his left knee. . 1B Hanley Ramirez is dealing with a sore left shoulder and got the night off. He is expected to return Thursday. … RHP Steven Wright (shoulder) threw from 120 feet at the team’s minor league facility in Fort Myers, Florida. He could throw a bullpen session this weekend.

Orioles: OF Steve Pearce underwent successful surgery on his forearm Wednesday.


Red Sox: LHP David Price (16-8, 3.91 ERA) brings a seven-game winning streak into the series finale.

Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman (16-6, 3.72) attempts to reach a career-high in wins and keep Baltimore afloat in the AL East.