Koji Uehara falters in 10th, ruins Red Sox comeback
BALTIMORE — Red Sox closer Koji Uehara played parts of three seasons for the Baltimore Orioles after coming over from Japan and still has a home here. Games at Camden Yards are ones he looks forward to, if only to sleep in his own bed and see his family.
On Saturday night, that turned sour for Uehara and the Red Sox.
He inherited a one-run lead in the 10th inning and lost the game in a span of three batters as the Orioles walked off with a 5-4 victory.
Adam Jones led off the inning with a triple, Red Sox right fielder Allen Craig making an ill-advised dive at the ball. Chris Davis followed with a sacrifice fly then David Lough with a home run to right field.
As the teams played, sirens wailed in the background and police helicopters buzzed overhead monitoring violent protests in the streets close to the ballpark.
At least a dozen arrests were made near the park during the game after protesters smashed storefront windows and vandalized several cars, including some police cruisers.
The demonstration was in protest of the death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray on April 19. He died of a spinal injury while in custody of the Baltimore Police. Authorities have not explained how Gray was injured.
One gate at Camden Yards was closed and there was a heavy police presence in and around the park. The unrest appeared to hold down the crowd attending the game.
During the ninth inning, an announcement was made asking fans to remain in the park because of the situation. Later, fans were told to avoid certain parts of the downtown area after leaving.
“We were well aware of what was taking place outside,” Red Sox manager John Farrell said. “Hopefully it’s a situation that settles down and there’s some peace that is restored.”
The Red Sox buses returned to the team hotel safely after the game.
Uehara (1-1) did not allow a run in his first four outings of the season but relied almost exclusively on his splitter, throwing only six fastballs out of 58 pitches.
The 40-year-old closer threw a good splitter to Jones, who looped the ball into right field. Craig should have kept the ball in front of him but dived and the ball rolled past him.
“Thought I had a good read on it. I was looking to make a diving play and just lost track of it there,” Craig said. “I was being aggressive there.”
Saturday was the second game Craig has started in right field this season, the first since April 11.
“It’s high-risk/high-reward play,’’ Farrell said. “He was there in plenty of time. He lost the ball on the dive.”
Davis hit an outside pitch well enough to left to drive in Jones. Lough than crunched a full-count splitter that stayed right in the middle of the strike zone.
A splitter is supposed to dive at the plate. It was so up that Farrell thought it was a fastball. At 76 miles per hour, it was a batting-practice pitch for Lough.
Uehara isn’t getting the usual finish to his pitches.
“The hitters obviously hit the breaking ball, so it’s obviously not there,” Uehara said.
Until Saturday, Uehara had dominated the Orioles since they traded him in 2011. He had allowed one run over 19 games and 18⅔ innings against Baltimore, none in 9⅓ innings at Camden Yards.
Until Uehara came in, it had been a night of comebacks for the Sox, who have lost four of six.
Wei-Yin Chen pitched eight strong innings for the Orioles, allowing two runs on four hits. He retired the final 12 batters before Zach Britton came on for the ninth inning.
Dustin Pedroia drew a leadoff walk. Britton struck out David Ortiz, but Hanley Ramirez and Mike Napoli reached on infield singles to load the bases.
Pablo Sandoval grounded to third base for what should have been a double play. But after stepping on third base, Manny Machado threw wide of first and a run scored.
With Napoli on third base and Sandoval on second, Craig struck out to end the inning. But the Sox had tied it.
Xander Bogaerts gave the Sox a 4-3 lead in the top of the 10th inning with a home run against Brad Brach.
“First time he’s shown the leverage in his swing in quite some time,” Farrell said. “Puts a beautiful swing on the ball. Encouraging to see him square one up.”
Justin Masterson allowed three runs on seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts. It was his longest start since Aug. 13 and only the fourth time this season a Sox starter got an out in the seventh inning.
Masterson allowed two runs in the first inning then settled in and pitched well.
“That was kind of the goal. We need to figure something out and at least get six or seven [innings],” Masterson said.
The Sox tied the game in the second inning. Ramirez drew a walk before Napoli drove a fastball down the line in right field that hit the foul pole.
It was the first home run of the season for Napoli, who came into the game hitting .143 with a .196 slugging percentage. He was 3 for 4.
Matt Barnes, recalled from Triple A Pawtucket earlier in the day, worked two innings before Uehara came in.
Baltimore’s Jimmy Paredes was 4 for 5 with a homer, a double, two runs, and two RBIs. He is 11 of 23 with five extra-base hits and four RBIs in five games against the Sox this season.