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BAL@NYY: Gonzalez four-hits Yanks over seven frames

At the beginning of the year, even astute baseball fans couldn't have predicted that Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez would be pitching in September for a contending Baltimore team and that Boston left-hander Jon Lester would be struggling for a losing Red Sox club.

Such is the reality of 2012. The Orioles are in the thick of the American League East and AL Wild Card races, and the Red Sox are looking ahead to next season.

Meanwhile, the two pitchers will be facing one another as the Orioles visit Fenway Park to begin a three-game series on Friday night.

Gonzalez, one of the AL's true surprises, has been a find for manager Buck Showalter and the Orioles, and he's coming off another quality start in his last outing.

In that Sept. 12 game, at home against the Rays, Gonzalez (6-4, 3.57 ERA) struggled with his command early but lasted six innings, allowing two runs on six hits. He got a no-decision in a game the Orioles eventually won, 3-2.

"Command-wise, he wasn't quite there, but it's a real testament to his moxie there," Showalter said. "He got right back in the competition, and everything that happened tonight, he was as key to it as anything."

Lester and the Red Sox have had a forgettable season, but the veteran lefty was on his game Sunday against the Blue Jays. He was in complete command for 6 2/3 innings, but things unraveled quickly and Boston ended up with a 5-0 loss.

Still, Lester said he felt good -- very good, in fact -- about his day.

"Great, awesome. Best I have thrown all year," said Lester, who is 14-0 with a 2.49 ERA vs. the Orioles. "I have to keep looking at those positives and keep plugging away.

Orioles: Road warriors
• Baltimore has won eight of its 10 road series against AL East opponents (three in New York, two each in Boston and Toronto and one in St. Petersburg). The Orioles' five wins at Fenway Park are their most since 2005 (also five) and their six wins at Yankee Stadium are their most since 1976 (eight).

• The Orioles are 35-43 when their opponent scores first. In the past two years, Baltimore was 44-128 when its opponent scored first (22-63 in 2011 and 22-65 in '10).

• Since his recall from Triple-A on Aug. 24, left-hander Brian Matusz has worked in relief during 13 games, allowing only five hits and two earned runs over 10 1/3 innings while striking out 15. He has stranded all 15 inherited runners.

Red Sox: Salty's sweet number
• Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia's 24 home runs are a career high and rank second among AL catchers this year behind the White Sox's A.J. Pierzynski, who has 26. Saltalamacchia is tied for fourth on the team's all-time single-season list by a catcher, two homers shy of the club mark for a catcher set by Carlton Fisk in 1973 and '77.

• Mike Aviles returned to the Red Sox's lineup and shifted over to third base for the first time this season in Thursday's series finale vs. the Rays. Aviles, who made 126 starts at shortstop, started 36 games at the hot corner in 2011 with the Royals and Red Sox. He finished the game going 1-for-3.

Worth noting
• The Orioles are 51-21 in games decided by one (27-8) or two (24-13) runs.

• The Red Sox have had 27 different players on the disabled list this season for 34 separate stints, both of which are the most by a Sox team since at least 1971. Comments