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Rapid Reaction: Red Sox 6, Orioles 5

5/23/2012

BALTIMORE -- Heck, we already told you Bobby Valentine used the back of a medical report to write out his lineup one day this week.

We suspect clubhouse man Tom McLaughlin, in addition to packing Valentine’s bicycle for Sox trips, also totes an Etch-a-sketch, dry erase board, and invisible ink, such is the frequency with which the Red Sox manager has to change the names from game to game.

And remarkably enough, it’s working.

Valentine’s 35th lineup in 44 games featured a bottom third of the lineup that this season had hit a grand total of two home runs. Daniel Nava and Kelly Shoppach had hit one apiece. Scott Podsednik hadn’t started a game in the big leagues since Sept. 9, 2010.

Wednesday afternoon, they combined to hit three -- Nava a solo shot in the sixth, Shoppach a two-run home run, also in the sixth, and Podsednik’s in the eighth, the newcomer’s home run ultimately the difference in Boston’s 6-5 win over the Orioles.

By winning the rubber game of this three-game set, the Red Sox have won four of their last five series and split a two-game set with the Rays, returning home at the break-even point (22-22).

They also will have their first day off after playing 20 in a row.

“I couldn’t be more happy with the way the guys worked through all that stuff -- the schedule, the travel, the injuries, the weather.," Valentine said before the game. "There’s been no complaining, guys who have gone well beyond the call of duty. To me, it’s a great thing to see as manager, the way we’ve come together.’’

The Red Sox survived a pair of home runs by Nick Johnson and an up-and-down start by Daniel Bard (5 hits, 4 walks, 2 runs in 5 1/3 innings). Alfredo Aceves recorded the last four outs for his 11th save, Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks had two hits apiece, and Che-Hsuan Lin made a diving catch as a defensive replacement in right.