BALTIMORE — Ryan Flaherty had two hits subbing for Chris Davis after baseball’s home run champ left with a sprained wrist, and the Baltimore Orioles wrapped up their season Sunday with a 7-6 victory over the playoff-bound Boston Red Sox.
With Davis’ season ending a couple of hours earlier than expected, Flaherty hit an RBI single in a five-run fifth and a run-scoring double when the Orioles took the lead for good in the sixth.
Davis was hurt in the fourth inning when his arm got in the way of Jacoby Ellsbury on a play at first. The player who accepted the Orioles’ MVP award before the game walked off to a standing ovation, finishing tops in the majors in both homers (53) and RBIs (138).
The Orioles finished 85-77, giving them back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1996-97, an achievement that hardly tempers the disappointment of not repeating last year’s run to the playoffs.
The Red Sox wrapped up a 97-65 season, tied with the St. Louis Cardinals for the best record in baseball. Boston will open its division series at Fenway Park on Friday against the winner of the AL’s wild-card playoff, a layoff so long that manager John Farrell is planning simulated games for Wednesday’s workout.
Making liberal use of the bench and bullpen with home-field advantage in the postseason already clinched, the Red Sox blew a 5-0 lead and used seven pitchers. Rubby De La Rosa (0-2) gave up Baltimore’s go-ahead run in the sixth.
T.J. McFarland (4-1), the second of four Orioles pitchers, threw one scoreless inning for the win.
Jim Johnson worked the ninth for his 50th save, but not before allowing one run and nearly a second that would have tied the game. The Red Sox had men on first and third with one out when Will Middlebrooks ended the game by hitting into a 5-4-3 double play.
Johnson, who had 51 saves last year, became the second player in major league history with back-to-back 50-save seasons, joining Eric Gagne, who had 52 in 2002 and 55 in 2003.
Davis’ glove hand bent awkwardly when struck by Ellsbury while reaching to try to catch a throw at first base from catcher Steve Clevenger. Ellsbury had hit a nubber only a few feet in front of home plate, and Clevenger’s throw hit Ellsbury on the left side of the back. Davis’ attempt to catch the ball left his outstretched arm in Ellsbury’s path.
Davis’ glove flew off, and he immediately grabbed his wrist. He attempted a few throws under the supervision of the trainer before heading to the dugout.
Ellsbury was given a single, but Clevenger was charged with an error that allowed a runner to score on the play.
With the four-day break to come, Red Sox manager Farrell wanted to give multiple innings to multiple pitchers who might see spot duty in the postseason.
Scheduled starter John Lackey was scratched for Allen Webster, who threw three hitless innings. Felix Doubront pitched a scoreless fourth but fell apart in the fifth, retiring only one of the eight batters he faced as the Orioles scored five to tie the game.
Baltimore starter Chris Tillman pitched five innings, allowing five runs and eight hits.
Notes: Ellsbury began the game with his 10th career leadoff homer, breaking the club record held by Dom DiMaggio and Tommy Harper. … Baltimore set a major league record with 54 errors in a 162-game season, 11 fewer than the previous mark set by the 2003 Mariners. … Orioles CF Adam Jones sat out with a sore right wrist, which he hurt while fouling off a pitch in the seventh inning of Saturday night’s game. … No surprise that Davis won the Orioles’ MVP award. “It’s been a really fun year for me personally,” he said. “A little disappointing at the end not making the postseason. Just to be a part of this group of guys and to be on a winning team, I think that a lot of guys who have had successful seasons that haven’t been on winning teams, it’s a little bittersweet for them.” … The Orioles drew more than 2.3 million, their best season attendance since 2005.