BALTIMORE — The vast change in the Baltimore Orioles over the past couple of years can be measured by their success against the Boston Red Sox, even when their AL East rivals send Jon Lester to the mound.
Chris Davis hit his major league-leading 23rd home run, Nick Markakis had four hits and scored three runs, and Baltimore beat Lester and the Red Sox 6-3 Sunday.
Manny Machado extended his hitting streak to a career-high 14 games and drove in a run for the Orioles, who took three of four from first-place Boston to move within 1½ games of the division lead. Baltimore has won six straight series over the Red Sox, dating to last year.
Before going 13-5 against Boston in 2012, the Orioles hadn’t taken a season series from the Red Sox since 2004. The metamorphosis is even more apparent when gauging their performance against Lester.
Prior to last September, when the Orioles charged into the playoffs for the first time since 1997, Baltimore was 0-14 against the Boston right-hander. They beat him on Sept. 21, and Sunday they tagged him for five runs in five innings.
“Obviously we have a different group here,” said Davis, who was 0 for 14 lifetime against Lester before ripping a 3-1 pitch in the third inning for a two-run homer that put Baltimore up 3-0.
After striking out in the first inning, Davis took action.
“Went in there and looked at some video just to get an idea of what he’d been doing to me in the past,” he said. “I know I hadn’t had a lot of success. If you give him both sides of the plate and try to hit all those pitches you make it tough on yourself. I was able to get ahead of him and get a good pitch to drive.”
It was his 100th career homer and seventh in the last 10 games against Boston. Davis also doubled in a run in the fifth against Lester, sending the Orioles on their way to their 14th win in 19 games against the Red Sox, including five of seven this season.