Red Sox Lose Focus; Then Lose Game

Alex JohnsonCorrespondent IJuly 1, 2009

BOSTON - JUNE 10:  Brian Roberts #1 of the Baltimore Orioles scores a run as he crosses the plate in the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park June 10, 2008 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

As the rain ended, the tarp pulled off, and baseball began again, it looked like the Red Sox were going to cruise to another victory.

However, it seemed as if the 71 minute rain delay in the middle of the fifth inning got into the heads of the Boston players.

With a 9-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, Baltimore's Felix Pie grounded out to shortstop.  With two outs, the entire Red Sox infield jogged off the field thinking there were three down. 

Clearly they lost focus.

In the seventh, pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar hit a three-run-home run off Boston's Justin Masterson to close the score at 10-5.

After a five-run seventh and now trailing by four runs, the Orioles kept swinging the bats.

The first three batters in the home eighth reached on hits off reliever Hideki Okajima. Orioles catcher Matt Wieters singled home Nolan Reimold to cut the lead to 10-7. Ty Wigginton then hit a sacrifice fly to close the O's within three.

Brian Roberts then singled into left scoring one and closing his team within two runs.

Boston brought in closer Jonathan Papelbon, and Nick Markakis doubled to give Baltimore an 11-10 lead.

George Sherrill closed the ninth for his 17th save of the season.

The O's combined for 10 runs in the seventh and eighth innings capping off the biggest comeback in Baltimore franchise history.

"I think you could certainly feel the momentum was going our way," said Roberts, "but we still had some work to do. Guys just really had good at-bats, and even if people didn't get hits, they did what they needed to do. Wiggy had a real nice piece of hitting just to get a run in and keep guys moving along the bases."

"That's why we play nine innings," added Markakis, who finished the game 2-for-5. "We were down early, and all game. The pitchers kept us in the game there, and we swung the bats well as a team."

"That was fun," said Orioles Manager Dave Trembley.  "Gosh darn it, that was fun."

John Smoltz made his second start of the season, going 4 innings for Boston before the rain ended his night.  He gave up just one run, on three hits, one walk, and two strikeouts.  He left with a 9-1 lead.

The Red Sox loss, combined with a Yankees win over Seattle, cuts Boston's AL East lead to two-and-one-half games.