BALTIMORE — One day after taking his frustrations out on a dugout phone, Boston’s David Ortiz directed his anger at Baltimore Orioles pitchers.
Ortiz went 4-for-4 with a home run and Jon Lester pitched seven scoreless innings to lead the Red Sox to a 5-0 victory over the Orioles before an announced crowd of 32,891 on Sunday.
With the victory, Boston took the three-game series with the Orioles. Boston also regained first place in the American League East when the New York Yankees — led by Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano — beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-5. The Red Sox, who had led the division for 60 consecutive days before falling into second on Friday night, lead the Rays by one-half game.
Ortiz, who was ejected the previous night for arguing with home plate umpire Tim Timmons and then destroyed a dugout phone with his bat, hit his team-leading 20th home run. Ortiz received a loud chorus of boos with each at-bat and put his finger to his lips to mockingly quiet the crowd after the homer.
“I like when the crowd goes crazy rooting against me,” Ortiz said. “That’s why I love playing in New York. It gets me going. It’s the atmosphere. I just went out there like I normally do and it feels great.”
Lester (10-6) improved to 15-2 in his career against Baltimore, allowing four hits with eight strikeouts and two walks. He has quality starts in four of his past five games.
The Orioles had won six straight series against Boston before the weekend.
“They’ve always been a tough team to come down here and face at home,” Lester said. “They always have a great offensive lineup. Our guys did a good job today with Hammel and making him work, getting some early runs and giving me some cushion to work with.”
Orioles starter Jason Hammel allowed three runs and six hits with three strikeouts and five walks in 5 1/3 innings. He is now winless in his past 10 starts; his last victory was May 27 at Washington.
Hammel (7-8) consistently fell behind hitters for much of the day and surrendered a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out double by Mike Napoli. In the second inning, Hammel hung an 85 mph slider to Ortiz, who launched the pitch over the left-field fence for a 3-0 lead.
“It wasn’t pretty,” Hammel said. “That’s been the theme lately. Obviously, I wanted to get deeper in the game, and Lester threw a great game. Obviously, the walks today and the home run bothered me, but dealing with a little tight zone, I wasn’t going to back down and just throw it down the middle.”
Lester, on the other hand, cruised through the Baltimore lineup and retired 10 consecutive hitters before allowing a two-out single by Adam Jones in the fourth.
The O’s threatened in the sixth when Chris Davis reached on an error and Jones singled. However, Lester struck out Matt Wieters and then got J.J. Hardy to ground into a double play.
“You know what you’re going to get with him,” Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis said of Lester. “You know it’s going to be a battle. He wasn’t locating his pitches the best I’ve seen him. But he was still effective, especially with guys on base, it seem like we making his pitches.”
The Red Sox opened a 5-0 lead in the eighth with a two-run single by Jarrod Saltalamacchia off left-hander T.J. McFarland.
“It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to win more than we lose in a series against the Orioles,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “When Jon Lester pitches to his capabilities, he’s gonna be one of the best pitchers in the league. He’s shown that the last couple of times out.”
NOTES: Davis, the American League home run leader, batted third for just the third time this season and went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He has also struck out in 22 consecutive games. ... Ortiz now has 11 seasons with at least 20 home runs for the Red Sox, joining Dwight Evans and Jim Rice for second most behind Ted Williams (16). ... The Red Sox and the Rays play a makeup game tonight at Fenway Park.