Monday September 24, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- Cody Ross and the Boston Red Sox are happy to be playing meaningful games.

Ross robbed Adam Jones of a home run with a catch above the wall in right field in the top of the first inning, then hit a double in the bottom of the eighth to drive in the go-ahead run for the Red Sox in a 2-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

"At this point it's nice to be able to play meaningful games whether it be against these guys or the Yankees or Tampa," Ross said. "There's something to play for. Obviously we want to be on their side of the ball and be playing for a spot, but we're not so this is what we're left to do and that's try to win games."

Boston avoided a sweep while the Orioles remained one game behind the Yankees for the division lead and one up on Oakland for the top wild-card spot in the league. The Athletics beat the Yankees 5-4.

Ross thought his double might have been foul.

"Luckily I kept it fair," Ross said of his hit that disappeared into the shadows before bouncing high off Fenway Park's "Green Monster."

He had just unsuccessfully tried to bunt over Dustin Pedroia, who led off the inning with a double. Ross decided to swing away and connected for a shot off of Luis Ayala (5-5) that easily scored Pedroia.

Andrew Bailey escaped a bases-loaded jam in the ninth to preserve the lead and the Red Sox snapped a four-game losing streak.


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Boston also spoiled a great opportunity for the Orioles, who would have moved in a tie with the New York Yankees for first place in the AL East.

Junichi Tazawa (1-1) pitched a perfect eighth before the Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the ninth on a single by Mark Reynolds, a double by Jim Thome and an intentional walk to Chris Davis. But Bailey retired Manny Machado on a forceout at home and struck out pinch hitter Ryan Flaherty to get his sixth save in eight opportunities.

"I like to work fast, but sometimes I work too quickly and get ahead of myself, but today I was able to slow my self down and make the pitches when I needed to," Bailey said. "As much as I love that situation, you don't want to be in it."

Boston starter Felix Doubront struck out 11 in six innings, including three each against Robert Andino and Reynolds. Andino returned after being hit in the helmet with a pitch on Friday night.

Doubront allowed one run on four hits with two walks in seven innings in his second straight solid start.

Baltimore nearly took a lead in the first on a deep fly down the right-field line by Jones. But Ross raced to the corner and reached into the stands to make the catch while banging into the low fence.

"Adam put a really good swing on a ball that was away. I was just tracking it, thinking it was going to be foul," Ross said. "I didn't really know where I was, actually. I thought that the ball was in front of the pole after I had caught it. I ran in and somebody was like ‘You just robbed a home run.' I was like ‘I did? All right. Cool.' "

The Red Sox scored the game's first run in the fourth when Ross led off with a single and took second on a walk to James Loney. With one out, Danny Valencia grounded to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who threw to second for the first out, but Andino's relay into the dirt eluded Reynolds at first base. Ross scored from second, sliding ahead of the attempted tag by Matt Wieters.

Doubront held the Orioles hitless through four innings and gave up hits to the first three batters in the fifth. Lew Ford singled, took third on a double by Davis and scored on a single by Machado.