BALTIMORE >> Mookie Betts hit a career-high three homers and drove in five runs, and the Boston Red Sox cruised past the Baltimore Orioles 6-2 on Tuesday night to open a three-game lead in the AL East.
Betts led off the game with a shot to center and added a three-run drive to left in the second inning. After lining out to second base in the fourth, Betts hit a bases-empty homer to right in the seventh.
Batting in the ninth inning with a chance to tie the major league record of four homers in a game, Betts grounded out to second against rookie Ashur Tolliver.
Still, he's the first Boston player to hit three homers in a game since Will Middlebrooks against Toronto on April 7, 2013. Betts' 12 home runs rank second on the team behind David Ortiz, who has 14.
Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts stretched his career-best hitting streak to 24 games with a single in the seventh inning. It's the second-longest in the majors this season behind teammate Jackie Bradley Jr., whose 29-game streak ended last week.
Bradley was placed on the paternity list Tuesday, but the Red Sox banged out 10 hits without him.
Betts and Dustin Pedroia opened the game with back-to-back home runs on Kevin Gausman's second and fifth pitches. In the second inning, Betts followed two walks with a liner that squeezed inside the left-field foul pole for a 5-0 lead.
Betts made it 6-2 in the seventh with a shot off Dylan Bundy.
Boston starter Eduardo Rodriguez (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in his season debut. The left-hander was activated from the disabled list before the game after being sidelined since March with a right knee injury.
Gausman (0-2) finished strong after the rocky start but remains winless after eight starts. The right-hander struck out eight but gave up a career-high tying three home runs for the second straight outing.
The Orioles were tied for first place with Boston on May 22, but now stand a season-high three games out after losing seven of nine — including the first two of this four-game series.
The tone for this one was established early, when Gausman became the first Baltimore pitcher to allow back-to-back homers to start a game since Rodrigo Lopez in June 2006.
Red Sox: OF Rusney Castillo was recalled from Triple-A Pawtucket to replace Bradley on the roster.
Orioles: Backup C Caleb Joseph was placed on the 15-day DL with a testicular injury after being struck by a foul ball in Monday's game. C Francisco Pena was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to play behind Matt Wieters.
Red Sox: Highly touted prospect Sam Travis, a first baseman, has been lost for the season due to a torn left ACL. The injury, which will require reconstructive surgery, occurred in a minor league game Sunday. "By all accounts, it looks like spring training is the goal as far as time frame is concerned," manager John Farrell said.
Orioles: RHP Yovani Gallardo (shoulder) will begin his rehabilitation assignment Thursday with Class A Frederick.
Red Sox: RHP Joe Kelly (2-0, 6.30 ERA) seeks his 11th straight victory on Wednesday night in the third game of the series. The streak began last August and includes a win over Baltimore in April.
Orioles: Mike Wright (2-3, 5.05 ERA) gave up four runs in five innings against Boston in April but still picked up his first win of the season.