Boston Red Sox

Behind a strong outing from Rick Porcello, the Red Sox opened up what could be a soggy series in Baltimore with a 5-3 win over the Orioles Monday night.

Porcello improved to 12-4 on the season, tossing six scoreless innings of six-hit ball. He struck out six and walked one.

It was a bounce back performance for the sinkerballer, who was rocked by the Blue Jays for eight runs 12 days ago in his final start before the All-Star break.

Orioles starter Kevin Gausman (4-8) lasted 4.2 innings, giving up five runs on three hits. The righty’s command was his undoing, issuing three walks leading to three of the five Red Sox runs.

Mitch Moreland homered as part of a 1-for-3 night at the plate. Andrew Benintendi went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.

The game was delayed twice by rain, once in the first inning and once in the third inning. The forecast calls for more rain on Tuesday and Wednesday, casting doubt over the status of the remainder of the series.

The Sox increased their season-high lead in the American League East over the Yankees to six games after New York lost to Tampa Bay 7-6.

With the win, the Red Sox moved to 40 games over .500 (71-31) and have now won 15 out of 17.

How it happened:

Moreland opened the scoring in the top of the second with a solo home run, his 12th of the season. It was the first baseman’s first home run since June 24.

The Orioles nearly tied the game in the bottom of the third on a Jonathan Schoop double, but the Sox cut down the would-be tying run at the plate on well-executed relay by Andrew Benintendi and Xander Bogaerts.

With Adam Jones at second base and one out in the fourth inning, Porcello was called for a balk by second base umpire Fieldin Culbreth. Time was called at home plate and Porcello seemed to step off the rubber after time was called, but the balk stood and moved Jones to third base. But Porcello fought back, striking out Chris Davis and Trey Mancini to end the inning.

The Red Sox did most of their damage in the fifth. Gausman gave up a leadoff double to Bogaerts, who advanced to third on a Brock Holt groundout. Gausman then lost all command, walking three-straight batters to force in a run. Benintendi chased the righty from the game with a ground-rule double over the left field fence to give the Sox a 4-0 lead. J.D. Martinez drove in his 82nd run of the season with a single to put Boston up 5-0.

Schoop got Baltimore on the board in the eighth inning with a two-run homer off Brandon Workman.

The Red Sox threatened by loading the bases in the ninth, but Rafael Devers took a would-be Mookie Betts sacrifice fly off the board with a base running blunder by getting doubled-up on a fly ball to center.

With the save situation still in place, Craig Kimbrel was called into the game in the ninth. The closer gave up a run on a Caleb Joseph RBI single, but induced a game-ending double play to notch his 32nd save of the season.

Up Next: The Sox and O’s are scheduled to play game two of their series Tuesday night at Camden Yards, weather permitting. Drew Pomeranz (1-3, 6.81 ERA) is set to return to the rotation for the first time since May 31 after being sidelined with biceps tendinitis. The Orioles will counter with righty Yefry Ramirez (0-3, 3.09 ERA) in his fifth major league start.

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