BALTIMORE -- For all practical purposes, Saturday's game between the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles was stripped of all meaning when the Seattle Mariners beat the Oakland A's, just before first pitch, clinching the best record in the A.L. for the Red Sox.
But that didn't get in the way of an entertaining game which featured numerous lead changes, with the Orioles overtaking the Red Sox in the bottom of the eighth for a 6-5 victory.
Steve Pearce laced an opposite-field double to left off Franklin Morales, scoring two runs and giving the Orioles the lead for good. Junichi Tazawa, who put the first two baserunners of the inning on base, was charged with the loss.
Only an inning earlier, Daniel Nava's fourth hit of the night -- a single to left in the top of the seventh -- scored Dustin Pedroia with what appeared to be the deciding run. A single by Jonny Gomes had scored Stephen Drew from second with the tying run.
Earlier, David Ross, getting a rare start, had knocked in two of the first three Red Sox runs with a single in the fourth and a double in the sixth.
Dustin Pedroia (three hits) also knocked in a run.
Jon Lester, in his final start of the regular season, was charged with four runs over five innings and was left with a no-decision. The four runs were the most off him in a start since Aug. 2, 10 starts ago.
AT A GLANCE
STAR OF THE GAME: Steve Pearce
Pearce saved his best for (almost) last: he enjoyed a season-high three RBI on two doubles, the second of which, hit off Franklin Morales, provided the game-tying run and the winning run.
HONORABLE MENTION: Daniel Nava
Nava tied a career high with four hits. The fourth hit, a single in the seventh, helped put the Red Sox ahead 5-4, but the Boston bullpen couldn't hold on.
GOAT OF THE GAME: Franklin Morales
In another audtion for the post-season, Morales didn't fare as well as he did the other night in Denver when he picked off one runner and struck out the only batter he faced. On Saturday, after striking out Nick Markakis, he surrendered the game-winning double to Pearce.
TURNING POINT: Junichi Tazawa got ahead of both hitters he faced in the eighth, but ended up giving up singles to both Matt Wieters and Danny Valencia, who both came around to score.
BY THE NUMBERS: Quintin Berry's stolen base in the ninth inning was the Red Sox' 38th straight successful steal, the longest in club history and the longest for any team since Toronto also had 38 in 1993.
QUOTE OF NOTE: "It's a pretty big accomplishment for our team. There's a lot of great teams and we've got the best record. It sets up nicely.'' Dustin Pedoira on clinching home-field advantage throughout the post-season.