BALTIMORE --- Saturday afternoon was one for the pitchers at Camden Yards, and David Price was the best of the lot.
The left-hander turned in one of his finest starts of the season for the Red Sox, and it didn’t come a moment too soon. Boston’s tired bullpen needed a bit of a rest for the front end of the day-night doubleheader, one provided by Price over six scoreless innings.
Two home runs by Jackie Bradley Jr. and a two-run shot by Eduardo Nunez made Price a winner, as the Red Sox controlled the sweltering afternoon in a 5-0 shutout of the Orioles.
Price scattered five hits and reached double-digit strikeouts for the first time in more than a year, fanning 10. The 21 swings-and-misses he recorded matched his best in 69 starts with Boston, the first time coming against this same Baltimore club on June 14, 2016. Price has allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of his last 16 starts, including each of his last four.
“We’ve got a good team,” Price said. “We’re playing extremely well. I just want to go out there and continue to help us win.”
Price spoke of making necessary adjustments after being thumped by the Yankees on July 1, allowing a career-high five home runs in an ugly 11-1 loss in the Bronx. Going to his secondary pitches more often appears to be a primary part of the game plan, as Price recorded four strikeouts apiece on his changeup and cut-fastball. The Orioles didn’t advance a man to third base or enjoy multiple runners in any inning against Price, who threw 68 of his 94 pitches for strikes.
“He works at his craft,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “He takes pride in what he wants to do. He understands how important he is for us.”
“My changeup and my backdoor cutter, they both played off each other really well today,” Price said. “That was a big key.”
Boston’s 19 runs on Friday night were its most in a road game since 1994, and the offense looked a bit sleepy as a result the following afternoon. Xander Bogaerts served as the spark with three hits and two runs scored, keying a pair of rallies in the fifth and sixth. It was the type of performance that suggests Bogaerts is fully healed after taking a fastball off the right hand in a game against the Phillies last week.
“I tell him he’s a good player,” Cora said. “He’s got talent. There’s nothing wrong with showing it. He’s playing that way.”
Bogaerts lined a leadoff single to left in the fifth, moving to 2-for-2 on the day. His Red Sox teammates were a combined 0-for-13 when Nunez dug in one batter later and let loose on a 3-and-0 fastball out over the plate. The ensuing line drive sizzled down the line in left and inside the foul pole, a two-run homer that made it 2-0.
Boston had finally solved Orioles starter Jimmy Yacabonis after 1-2-3 innings in the first, third and fourth, with Bradley doing more damage on a two-seam fastball that leaked back over the plate. He crushed a drive that landed 419 feet away in the right field bleachers, and Mookie Betts followed with a single to center to chase the right-hander after 4 2/3 innings.
“I just think we had to make an adjustment and make solid contact on pitches in the zone,” Bradley said. “He was locating pretty consistently well early on. We were able to get runners on.”
Bogaerts smoked a one-out double to left in the sixth, creating another scoring opportunity all by himself. He stole third base and raced home on a throwing error, giving the Red Sox a four-run cushion. Bradley’s solo homer to center in the ninth made it a satisfying final, with Boston also enjoying an early 5-0 lead when rain forced a postponement of the original meeting on July 25.
On Twitter: @BillKoch25