BOSTON (AP) — Jason Hammel learned a valuable lesson the hard way last year. Now, he’s taken that knowledge and turned it into early-season success.
Hammel continued his strong start this season by going 6 2/3 solid innings and Mark Reynolds hit a 3-run homer, helping the Orioles send the Boston Red Sox to another Fenway Park failure with an 8-2 win on Saturday.
“I really decided that end of last year it was really time to make an adjustment,” said Hammel, acquired from the Colorado Rockies in an offseason trade. “I was getting my teeth knocked in for about four years straight and I decided it was time to make an adjustment. I went down to the bullpen in Colorado and focused on pitching there, learned how to pitch.”
Hammel (4-1) limited the Red Sox to a pair of first-inning hits and held them scoreless until he gave up two runs in the seventh. The right-hander gave up two runs, four hits, struck out eight and walked one, slightly raising his impressive ERA to 2.09 from 1.97.
“Boy, he pounded the strike zone with good stuff,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s doing the things that give him a chance to win the game.”
Last year, Hammel made 25 starts before being demoted to the bullpen in mid-August, but in September he gave up only four earned runs in 20 innings.
On Saturday, Hammel retired 16 of 17 batters, allowing only David Ortiz’s fourth-inning walk after the hits in the first before Adrian Gonzalez reached on an infield hit and scored on Ryan Sweeney’s RBI double.
Adam Jones added a two-run homer for Baltimore, which won its fourth straight and 10th in the last 12 games.
Baltimore goes for the three-game sweep against the Red Sox on Sunday after taking two of three from the Yankees in New York.
“These last few years teams have always taken advantage of us,” Jones said. “Now, we’ve got a series, but I think we need to sweep. We need to be hungry, keep the momentum going.”
Gonzalez had three hits for Boston, which lost its fourth straight and has dropped nine of its last 10 games at Fenway.
“We’ve just got to come back and play better,” Ortiz said. “It’s not magical.”
The Orioles knocked out starter Aaron Cook (0-1) after 2 2/3 innings and built an 8-0 lead after three. Cook, signed as a minor league free agent in January, was making his first start after Josh Beckett was skipped due to soreness.
Cook suffered a cut on his left knee in the second inning, covering the plate on a passed ball, but stayed in.
“I thought about taking him out immediately. I brought in the guy from the bullpen,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said. “The medical staff said he’d be fine. I told him, ‘Cookie it’s on you, man.'”
Cook said he got 11 stitches after he came out.
In four of his five previous starts, Hammel was lifted with Baltimore having scored three runs or fewer. His last start was a 2-1 loss at the New York Yankees on Monday.
The Orioles gave him plenty of run support this time.
Leading 1-0, six of eight batters collected hits and another walked as Baltimore chased Cook with six runs in the third. The two outs came on Robert Andino’s liner to left and Endy Chavez being caught on the front end of a double-steal attempt at third.
Nick Markakis had an RBI single before Jones belted a homer over the Green Monster seats and completely out of Fenway. Wilson Betemit, the last batter Cook faced, had an RBI single after Matt Wieters doubled and Chris Davis singled, making it 5-0.
Clayton Mortensen relieved and Reynolds homered into the Monster seats. Reynolds also hit his first home run of the season in Friday’s win.
Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the second when Davis scored on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s passed ball. Cook was spiked by Davis’ slide as the pitcher came sliding knees-first trying to block the plate. Cook was looked at by a Red Sox trainer on the field then headed down the dugout steps and Mortensen came trotting in from the bullpen before Cook came back out and the reliever headed back to the pen.
NOTES: Showalter said before the game that veteran infielder Miguel Tejada will report to the team’s spring training facility in Sarasota, Fla., on Monday to take a physical. Showalter also said that LHP Zach Britton, rehabbing from left shoulder inflammation, threw 47 pitches in Sarasota and he “felt good.” Valentine said before the game that 3B Kevin Youkilis, on the 15-day DL with a strained lower back, had an MRI today. Valentine did not know the results. Boston 3B Will Middlebrooks was a late scratch with a sore left hamstring. Mortensen went 3 1-3, giving up two hits and striking out five. Cook was 3-0 with a
1.89 ERA with Triple-A Pawtucket.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)