BOSTON -- As the games dwindle, Kevin Gausman will become more and more critical to the Orioles success. The right-hander, who has generally turned in strong second halves, was especially splendid against the Boston Red Sox, allowing just four hits in 7 2/3 scoreless innings in the Orioles' 7-0 win before 36,655 at Fenway Park on Aug. 26.
Gausman struck out five and walked three as the Orioles won for the third straight time and moved to within one game of .500 at 64-65. In the convoluted American League wild-card race, the Orioles trail the Minnesota Twins for the final spot by two games.
There are five other teams grouped around the Orioles, chasing the Twins, and in order to get serious, they’ll have to put on the kind of sustained push in the final five weeks that they exhibited during the season’s first five weeks.
The Orioles began the season 22-10, and have 33 games remaining.
For the second straight game, the Orioles moved out to an early lead. They scored five runs in the second against Eduardo Rodriguez. Tim Beckham hit his 18th home run, his sixth in 24 games with the Orioles, a three-run shot.
Beckham’s homer came on the ninth pitch of an extended at-bat.
"I knew the first at-bat, he struck me out looking on a fastball out that was probably a ball," Beckham said. "I didn’t want him to get me looking on a fastball out again. He kept going in. I just wanted to foul them off until I get a pitch I can handle, do something with."
The shortstop has hit in 22 of the 24 games he’s played for the Orioles, and he’s enjoyed the opportunity to bat first.
"I like batting leadoff. You can set the tone with the first at-bat of the game," Beckham said. "That’s something I like to do. If I see a pitch up I can drive, I take an aggressive hack at it. We’re an aggressive lineup, and we don’t want to let a fastball pass, so we’re going to be swinging out of the chute."
Jonathan Schoop added his 28th home run in the eighth. With 95 RBIs, Schoop has set a new mark for most runs driven in by an Orioles second baseman, surpassing Roberto Alomar’s 94 in 1996.
"Pretty good company. Real good company," manager Buck Showalter said. "Those are the things that really get your attention, because there’s not a better second baseman all-around than Robbie Alomar was. But there’s a chance someday they’ll be talking about Jonathan like that."
Gausman whose ERA was a frightful 7.55 after he was ejected for allegedly throwing at Boston shortstop Xander Bogaerts on May 3, still had an ERA above 6.00 for much of last month. He’s now lowered it to 4.98, its lowest since his third start on April 13, and has a 2.26 ERA in his last eight starts.
Gausman is a 10-game winner for the first time in his career.
"Obviously, to get to where I'm at right now, throwing the ball better than I was in the first half, I wouldn't say that I'm proud of myself, but I'm proud of myself for not just letting it be a whirlwind and a snowball effect and kind of just let the season get away from me," Gausman said.
"We're still playing meaningful games right now, and we need not just me but all the starters to really kind of pick it up."
This was Gausman’s second longest start of the season and the eighth shutout for the Orioles. It’s their fourth shutout since July 24, and Gausman has been the winner in three of them.
"If we're going to make the playoffs, starters are going to have to do their part," Gausman said. "That's the biggest part. We have to win games like today. You get a lead early, you've got to be able to kind of shut the door."
NOTES: With the Orioles’ win on Aug. 25, Showalter passed Clark Griffith for 23rd place on the all-time manager’s win list. He currently as 1,493. …LHP Wade Miley (7-10, 5.11) faces RHP Doug Fister (3-6, 4.78) on Aug. 27 at 1:35 p.m.