BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles didn’t have much to celebrate this season, so they took extra pleasure in putting a rousing finish on an otherwise lackluster year.
The Orioles use a two-run ninth inning to beat Boston 4-3 on Wednesday night, and in the process they bounced the Red Sox out of playoff contention.
“End of season like this, to make Boston go home sad, crying, I’ll take it all day,” said Robert Andino, who got the game-winning hit off Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Papelbon (4-1) struck out the first two batters before giving up a double to Chris Davis. Nolan Reimold followed with a double to score pinch-runner Kyle Hudson, and Andino completed the comeback with a single to left that a sliding Carl Crawford couldn’t glove.
“To walk off, everybody wants to walk off,” Andino said. “It’s priceless man, you don’t have any words for it. Just enjoy it, and there’s no tomorrow, so next year.”
The same can be said for the Red Sox.
Baltimore finished 69-93, but went 5-2 against Boston down the stretch.
“It was exciting. We battled to the end and we came out on top this time,” Reimold said. “We weren’t playing for the playoffs, but we were playing for pride, and we showed it tonight.”
Boston held a nine-game lead in the AL wild-card race after Sept. 3, but a 7-19 September swoon left them tied with Tampa Bay entering the final day of the regular season.
Only minutes after this game ended, the Rays completed their comeback from a 7-0 deficit with an 8-7 win over the New York Yankees in 12 innings.
Boston became the first team to miss the postseason after leading by as many as nine games for a playoff spot entering September, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We’ll go down in history as one of the worst collapses in history, so it definitely doesn’t feel good to be part of that,” Crawford said. “We had high expectations, and to fall short the way we did is definitely disappointing for us.”
Boston’s 7-20 record for the month is its worst September since an identical mark in 1952.
“It’s just shocking. We should be playing a one-game playoff right now,” starter Jon Lester said. “It’s just one of those things. It wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t our year.”
Even if Tampa Bay lost, the Red Sox faced the prospect of a quick turnaround following a long night at Camden Yards that included a rain delay of 1 hour, 26 minutes in the middle of the seventh inning.
When the rain came, Tampa Bay trailed 7-0. By the time play resumed, the Rays and Yankees were tied at 7 heading into the 10th inning.
Dustin Pedroia homered for the Red Sox, who went through the entire month of September without winning consecutive games.
Pitching on three days’ rest, Lester limited the last-place Orioles to two runs and four hits over six gritty innings. But it wasn’t enough to prevent the Red Sox from absorbing one final blow.
“We’re not very happy right now,” manager Terry Francona said. “We needed to take care of business and we didn’t.”
Boston had several chances to pad a 3-2 lead it took in the fifth inning but was never able to complete the task.
After Pedroia hit a solo homer off Alfredo Simon in the fifth, the Orioles got the potential tying run to third base in the bottom half and in the sixth before Lester worked out of trouble.
In the seventh, Boston’s David Ortiz was thrown out trying to stretch a single, and with two outs rookie catcher Ryan Lavanway bounced into a fielder’s choice. Lavanway, who homered twice in an 8-7 win Tuesday, went 0 for 5 and stranded nine runners.
The Red Sox blew another chance to increase the lead in the eighth when Marco Scutaro took off from first base on a double by Crawford. But Scutaro stutter-stepped before getting to third and was out at the plate.
In the ninth, Lavanway grounded into a double play with one out and the bases loaded. It was the third time he came to the plate following an intentional walk to Adrian Gonzalez.
About 10 minutes later, Boston’s season was done.
The Red Sox went up 1-0 in the third when Mike Aviles walked, took second on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury and scored on a single by Pedroia. Ellsbury’s single extended his hitting streak against Baltimore to 36 games, dating to April 2009.
J.J. Hardy hit a two-run homer in the bottom half, only minutes after the scoreboard showed the Yankees increased their lead over Tampa Bay to 5-0. Hardy’s 30th homer followed a leadoff walk to Davis.
Boston pulled even in the fourth when Scutaro doubled, advanced on a groundout and scored on a balk.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)