Valencia's ninth-inning homer powers O's
In bid to make rotation, Matusz yields one run, six hits, notches two strikeouts
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Danny Valencia pummeled a solo homer over the Green Monster with two outs in the top of the ninth to break a tie and lead the Orioles to an 8-7 victory over the Red Sox on Tuesday at JetBlue Park.
The third baseman played for Boston during the latter part of last season and is likely to start this year at Baltimore's Triple-A Norfolk affiliate.
Down 7-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, Boston rallied with a six-spot. Mike Carp, Jeremy Hazelbaker, Mauro Gomez, Jonathan Diaz and Jackie Bradley Jr. all had RBI hits for the Red Sox during the rally.
Orioles lefty Brian Matusz, who is trying to earn a rotation spot, wasn't unhittable, but he still got the job done. Over five innings, Matusz scattered six hits and a run, walking one and striking out two.
"For me, I have the mentality of wanting to build up pitches and innings and be a starter this year, and that's my mentality and taking advantage of the opportunity when [manager Buck Showalter] gives me the ball."
Would Matusz be disappointed if he doesn't land a starting job?
"You know what? That's really not on my mind right now," said Matusz. "My focus is just taking care of working out in the weight room … staying on my cuff program and just getting stronger, staying in good shape, keep competing and let those things fall into place."
Showalter said Matusz is still in the mix for a starting job.
"Nobody's really taken a step back," said Showalter. "We got a little less than two weeks, so we'll continue to take in the looks we have and try to make a good decision."
Is it too early in Matusz's career to consign him to the bullpen?
"I don't know about consign," said Showalter. "There are guys that go to the bullpen and come back to start."
In 68 games as a starter, Matusz is 21-33 with a 5.51 ERA. In 18 relief appearances, he's 1-0 with a 1.35 ERA.
"I'll be frank with you," said Showalter. "If he hadn't had the success he had in the bullpen, we probably wouldn't be having this decision. So it bodes well for him as far as his ability to make our club in some form. It does have something to do with some of the thinking, but I do not look at it as a bird in hand that he's going to be as successful in the bullpen as he was last year. I got nothing to make me think he wouldn't be, but I think this is the time of year you get in a lot of trouble if you assume something just because it happened last year."
Ryan Dempster continued to get stretched out for the Red Sox, giving up six hits and three runs over five innings. The righty walked two and struck out one.
"I got extended again," Dempster said. "I made a couple of mistakes ahead in the count, but I'm feeling better and better and I felt stronger today. Next time out, just get a little further. Things are coming together nice."
Orioles leadoff man Brian Roberts had a hit, a run, two steals and a walk. Third baseman Manny Machado belted two hits.
Will Middlebrooks had two hits for Boston, including a ground-rule double. Mike Napoli hit a first-inning sacrifice fly to get Boston on the scoreboard, but the lead was short-lived.
Trayvon Robinson hit a leadoff homer in the third, and then Roberts added an RBI single while Nate McLouth brought home another run with a run-scoring groundout.
Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa fired a scoreless sixth inning, striking out one.
Baltimore would tack on three more runs in the seventh off Daniel Bard, who hadn't allowed any in his previous five relief appearances. Jason Pridie made it 4-1 with an RBI groundout and then Ryan Flaherty added a two-run single.
Orioles reliever Kevin Gausman followed Matusz and fired two shutout frames of relief. The righty allowed just one hit and fanned three batters.
Up next: The Orioles are back home Wednesday against the Blue Jays, in a 1:05 p.m. ET scheduled start. Lefty Zach Britton goes for Baltimore against right-hander Jeremy Jeffress.