Buchholz, Pedroia help salvage finale with O's

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Buchholz, Pedroia help salvage finale with O's

BALTIMORE And on the third day, the Red Sox were finally the victors.

After taking gut punches in the first two games of the series against the Orioles, Dustin Pedroia and Clay Buchholz both came through Thursday night in a 6-3 victory at Camden Yards.

Pedroia went 2-for-4 with an RBI and energized his teammates with his frenetic play in the field and running the bases while Buchholz continued to keep his teammates in a game that would have battered his fellow starting rotation mates. Buchholz (11-3) scattered eight hits and three walks in eight innings. He allowed three runs in the first two innings before settling into the game.

The seven strikeouts were also a clear sign of his dominant stuff while sewing his team-leading 11th win of the season, and his seventh win in his last eight decisions.

Those first two frames were a little rough as a two-run Adam Jones double in the first frame and a Mark Reynolds homer to start the second inning both greeted the Sox righthander. But he buckled down after that and allowed only two hits the rest of the way.

The Sox offense scratched for one run in the top of the second when a Scott Podsednik RBI single knocked in Nick Punto, and then the Boston bats pushed Chris Tillman out of the contest in the fifth inning. Carl Crawford and Dustin Pedroia got things going with a one-out single and double respectively, and then Crawford scored on a wild pitch.

That set things up for an Adrian Gonzalez sacrifice fly to center. Pedroia narrowly beat out a Jones' laser beam throw from the outfield. The Sox second baseman popped up, pumped his fist and seemed to energize the entire bench while exerting the energy of somebody playing for their reputation.

The sac fly tied things up and set the stage for a sixth-inning rally to win the game against reliever Luis Ayala. Podsednik started things off with a double and then moved to third after a fielders choice from Crawford.

Pedroia, Gonzalez and Cody Ross all slammed RBI singles to hand Boston a three-run lead before Gonzalez was gunned down at third after Pedroia crossed the plate with the sixth run. Ross ended up leading the Sox with three hits and was one of five Sox players with multi-hit efforts.

Alfredo Aceves closed things out for his 24th save and gave the Sox something to build on as they head into the Bronx for an urgent series against the hated Yankees.

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

Red Sox-Indians ALDS matchup becoming increasingly likely

BOSTON - The Red Sox knew they'd be in the playoffs last weekend when they clinched a postseason berth for the first time since 2013.

On Wednesday, they became division champs and knew they'd avoided the dreaded wild-card game.

ANALYSIS: Nick Friar looks at potential Red Sox-Indians matchup

They still don't know their first-round opponent, though it's becoming increasingly likely that it will be the Cleveland Indians.

Here's why: the Red Sox' loss to the Yankees on Thursday night leaves them with a 92-67 record with three games remaining, the second-best mark -- for now -- among the three A.L. division winners.

The Texas Rangers, at 94-65, retain the best record, with the Indians, at 91-67, a half-game behind the Sox.

The team with the best record of the three will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, and will be matched against the winner of Tuesday's A.L. wild-card matchup.

To finish with the A.L.'s best record and host the wild-card winner, the Red Sox essentially need to sweep the Toronto Blue Jays on the final weekend and hope that the Rangers get swept by Tampa Bay.

That's because a tie between the Red Sox and Rangers in the standings would make the Rangers the top seed by virtue of the second tie-breaker: intra-division play.

(The first tie-breaker is head-to-head play; the Sox and Rangers split the season series, sending them to the second tie-breaker).

In other words, the Rangers have a magic number of one to clinch the best record in the A.L. and gain home-field advantage throughout the postseason. One more Red Sox loss or one more Rangers win would get the Rangers locked into the top spot.

Again, barring a sweep by the Sox and the Rangers getting swept, a matchup in the Division Series with Cleveland seems almost inevitable.

What's not known is where that series will begin, and here's where it gets tricky.

Because the Indians and Detroit Tigers were rained out Thursday, the Tribe will have played only 161 games by the time the regular season ends early Sunday evening.

That could force the Indians and Tigers to play a makeup game on Monday, since the game could have playoff seeding implications for the Indians and Tigers. Detroit is still in the running for the A.L. wild card spot, currently a game-and-a-half behind the Orioles and Jays.

Since the Red Sox won the season series against the Indians 4-2, the Sox can clinch home field by winning two-of-three games from Toronto this weekend.

Should the Sox win two from the Jays, it would wipe out the need for Monday's makeup -- at least as far as the Indians are concerned. It's possible that it would still need to be played to determine the one of the wild card spots.

No matter who wins home field in a likely Red Sox-Indians matchup, the Division Series between the two will start with games next Thursday and Friday. After a travel day, the series would resume Sunday and Monday, Oct. 9-10.

Should the Sox win home field and host the first two games, Game 3 would be played Sunday Oct. 9 in Cleveland -- on the same day and in the same city where Tom Brady will make his return to the Patriots.