BALTIMORE — David Price was clearly uncomfortable on the mound, and it had nothing to with the sweltering conditions at swampy Camden Yards.
Price had owned the Baltimore Orioles for most of his career, yet the five-time All-Star just wasn’t himself this time against the team with the worst record in the big leagues.
Price (7-3) allowed six runs, eight hits and a walk in four innings to take his first loss in 13 starts since April 27. He was 8-0 in Baltimore and 16-5 lifetime against the Orioles before turning in a surprisingly ineffective performance.
“I didn’t have very good fastball command, no command of anything really,” Price said.
He insisted that the 96-degree heat was not the problem.
“It’s something everyone had to deal with,” Price said. “No, it wasn’t an issue with me. I prepared for it.”
Sam Travis homered for the Red Sox, who had won 14 of their previous 16 road games. Boston dropped 11 games behind the first-place Yankees in the AL East, matching the biggest deficit of the season for the defending champions.
Red Sox leadoff hitter Mookie Betts had his streak of scoring in 13 straight games come to an end, one short of breaking the franchise record he now shares with Ted Williams (1946).
Means (8-5), the Orioles’ lone representative on the AL All-Star team, gave up two runs and four hits. Facing the highest-scoring team in the majors, Means issued only one walk and retired nine straight batters after allowing the second-inning homer to Travis.
Put that together with a 14-hit attack, and you’ve got one happy manager.
“For me, that was one of our better games of the year, from all standpoints,” Orioles rookie manager Brandon Hyde said. “We pitched outstanding, we played really good defence, ran the bases well and everybody contributed in the lineup. It was just a fantastic game for us.”
Price, making his first start since renewing his feud with retired Red Sox star and current broadcaster Dennis Eckersley, struggled from the outset. The 2012 Cy Young Award winner gave up a single and a walk in the first inning before Santander sent a 2-2 fastball over the centre field wall.
“I made some mistakes early on in the first inning and I paid for it,” Price lamented.
Means opened the second with a walk and Travis followed with his first home of the year and second of his career.
In the bottom half, Richie Martin hit a liner off the right-field scoreboard. J.D. Martinez chased down the rebound as Martin was zipping around the bases, and after Martinez failed to cleanly pick up the ball, Martin raced for home and scored with a head-first slide.
The hit was ruled a triple, with Martinez getting an error.
Price avoided damage in the third, but Broxton made it 6-2 with a two-run drive to left in the fourth.
It took Price 88 pitches to get 12 outs. In his previous three games, he threw 93 in six innings and 99 and 113 pitches in a pair of five-inning stints.
“It’s been a grind — the foul balls, the long at-bats, getting to the pitch count,” manager Joey Cora said. “We have to figure out if we can do something else so he can get big outs.”
After Price left, Baltimore continued the onslaught against the Boston bullpen. It was the Orioles’ second straight blowout win — they beat Washington 9-2 on Wednesday.
Andrew Cashner returned to Camden Yards just five days after being traded to the Red Sox for a pair of 17-year-old prospects. He will start on Sunday.
“I think this will be the hottest start I’ve made this year, but it’ll be nice to face some of the guys I was with for a year and a half,” Cashner said.
Orioles OF Dwight Smith Jr. got the night off while mired in an 0-for-July skid that’s reached 30 at-bats and dropped his batting average from .255 to .230. “They’re making adjustments to him,” Hyde said. “Pitchers are pitching him a little bit differently, and now it’s his turn to make the adjustment back.”
Red Sox: RHP Nathan Eovaldi is expected to come off the 60-day IL on Saturday after missing three months with an elbow injury. Although he appeared as a starter in all four of his games in April, the 29-year-old will return as a member of the bullpen, possibly the closer.
Orioles: Catcher Pedro Severino has spent much of the week battling a flu-like illness, so C Austin Wynns was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to back up starter Chance Sisco.
Red Sox: Rick Porcello (7-7, 5.37 ERA) starts Saturday night, looking to improve his career 6-12 record against Baltimore.
Orioles: Rookie RHP Tom Eshelman (0-1, 5.06) makes his third career start. The previous two came against Tampa Bay.