BALTIMORE — The Red Sox had not scored in 18 consecutive innings when Dustin Pedroia stepped to the plate in the fourth inning on Saturday afternoon.
The Baltimore Orioles had a two-run lead at that point and the many Red Sox fans in the crowd at Camden Yards were growing restless.
Dustin Pedroia appeared to strike out on a curveball in the dirt from Freddy Garcia. But Pedroia turned to umpire Jeff Nelson and said he ticked the ball with his bat.
Nelson ruled it a foul ball. Orioles manager Buck Showalter argued the call, as did Garcia. Nelson, after checking the ball, said his decision stood.
Pedroia flicked the next pitch into center field for a single. Two batters later, Mike Carp hit a home run to right field.
The Sox took the lead later in that inning and went on to a 5-4 victory.
It was a big break for the Red Sox — especially because Pedroia never actually made contact with the pitch. He only thought he did.
“The last four or five games, the ball looks like a baby aspirin coming in. I actually thought I did hit it,” Pedroia said. “I swung and felt something and I’m like, ‘Could have swore I fouled that ball off.’ And then I didn’t. That’s kind of how locked in I am at the plate.”
Garcia never recovered. Jonny Gomes singled to left field after Carp’s home run and scored on a double by Stephen Drew. Pedroia drove in a run in the fifth inning, then Gomes homered in the sixth.
“That was a really bad call and I lost a little of my concentration,” Garcia said. “It shouldn’t happen . . . When you face a lineup like that, one thing can change the game.”
It was only the second victory for the Sox in six games against Baltimore this season. The Sox, 3-3 on the road trip, will have Jon Lester on the mound today.
The Sox have a 2½-game lead on the Orioles in the division.
John Lackey benefited from the burst of offense and improved to 4-5. He pitched seven innings and allowed two runs.
Unlike Garcia, Lackey kept his composure when the first inning turned sour on him.
Nate McLouth hit Lackey’s second pitch up the middle. It deflected off the pitcher’s foot for a single. Manny Machado then ripped a fastball down the line in left for an RBI double.
After a single by Nick Markakis and a wild pitch, Adam Jones made it 2-0 with an infield single.
Lackey got tough from there. He got Chris Davis to ground to second, Matt Wieters on a pop to shortstop and J.J. Hardy on a fly ball to right.
“It might have been the key to the game. Two runs in, first and second, nobody out and he did just an outstanding job of shutting them off at two runs,” Sox manager John Farrell said.
Lackey made two adjustments. The first was to step back and regain his composure. The second was to change the sequencing of his pitches and go with more breaking and off-speed offerings.
“Can’t really do too much about a couple of guys getting on once they’re on,” Lackey said. “You’ve got to minimize it as best you can, locate it a little better.”
Lackey had more good work in the fifth inning.
Taylor Teagarden led off with a grounder to third base that Jose Iglesias booted. It was charitably ruled a hit. McLouth followed with a grounder to second base that went through the legs of Pedroia for his first error of the season.
With Machado up, McLouth was thrown out stealing second.
Lackey tried to help catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia by being a touch quicker to the plate. Given a chance, Saltalamacchia got what was a big out.
“Salty’s been doing everything for us,” Lackey said. “He’s been really impressive.”
Machado grounded back to the mound and the inning ended when Markakis hit a fly ball to left.
Pedroia had gone 97 consecutive games without an error, one shy of matching his own team record. Lackey said the ball going through the second baseman’s legs was one of the more surprising things he’s even seen on a baseball field.
“I told him that I’ll probably not have to worry about seeing that again. I’ll be gone before that happens,” Lackey said. “It’s always satisfying to pick up a teammate and not let that guy score.”
Lackey turned a 5-2 lead over to the bullpen in the eighth inning. Koji Uehara struck out the side in his inning. But Andrew Bailey had a tightrope save in the ninth.
Jones led off with a single before Wieters homered deep to right field with one out. Hardy followed with a single to right field.
Ryan Flaherty followed with a fly ball to right field that Shane Victorino caught. Pinch runner Alexi Casilla was on his way to third base and was doubled off to end the game.
“I kind of started running and looked where Victorino was playing and thought no chance he was going to catch that ball,” Casilla said. “I guess I kept running. Bad read.”
Said Bailey: “I was kind of surprised. I knew there was one out . . . Shane ran it down and game over.”
Bailey blew a save on Monday against Tampa Bay when he allowed two runs on two hits and three walks. Farrell said he looked “jumpy” on the mound.
“I’ve got to put a halt to this little bad spell that I’ve been having,” Bailey said. “I’ve been missing in bad spots. I’ve got to focus on the glove more and throw better pitches. Everyone kind of goes through a rough patch and mine has to stop after today.”