Sox strand 12 in Opening Day loss to O'sBy JEFF SEIDEL
The Sports Xchange
March 31. 2014 8:38PM
BALTIMORE — Left fielder Nelson Cruz homered on the first pitch in the bottom of the seventh to give the Baltimore Orioles a 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox in the season opener for both teams Monday afternoon.
Cruz sent a Jon Lester fastball into the left-field seats, snapping a 1-1 tie when leading off the seventh. Lester kept the Orioles quiet before that, retiring nine of the previous 10 batters he faced before Cruz got the tie-breaking hit in his first game as an Oriole.
Boston left runners at third three times in the first six innings and finished 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The Red Sox stranded a total of 12 runners.
Zach Britton (1-0) got the win thanks to two innings of scoreless relief for starter Chris Tillman. Britton blanked the Red Sox in the sixth and seventh.
Evan Meek then replaced Britton and got the first two outs in the eighth. Brian Matusz came on for Baltimore with two on and two outs to finish the inning by getting catcher A.J. Pierzynski to ground out.
Tommy Hunter then made his debut as closer in the ninth and earned his first save to lock up the victory. Hunter is replacing Jim Johnson as closer after the Orioles traded him to Oakland in the offseason.
The Orioles had taken a 1-0 lead in the second, again with help from Cruz. He drew a leadoff walk and went to third when catcher Matt Wieters followed with a single. Cruz then scored on designated hitter Delmon Young's double-play grounder.
Boston tied it when center fielder Grady Sizemore led off the fourth with a solo homer that just made it on top of the right-field scoreboard off Tillman. He gave up one run on seven hits in five innings, escaping jams three times as the Red Sox repeatedly worked the count.
Tillman threw 104 pitches in five innings despite walking just one batter.
Lester gave up two runs on six hits in seven innings. He also struck out eight and walked only one, but the Red Sox couldn't get hits at the right times.NOTES: The Orioles gave Gold Gloves to CF Adam Jones, SS J.J. Hardy and 3B Manny Machado, who also got a Platinum Glove before the game. ...
The crowd of 46,685 was the 23rd straight sellout on Opening Day at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.