BALTIMORE — The Boston Red Sox opened the new baseball season the same way they finished the last one, by combining solid pitching and a relentless offense to win a series.
Although taking 2 of 3 from the Baltimore Orioles wasn’t nearly as uplifting as winning the World Series, it still felt pretty darn good.
Felix Doubront and four relievers combined to keep Baltimore’s potent lineup in check, and David Ortiz had three of Boston’s 12 hits off Wei-Yin Chen in a 4-3 victory Thursday night.
Xander Bogaerts also had three hits for the Red Sox. The 21-year-old shortstop has reached in eight of his 12 plate appearances, collecting five hits and three walks.
Boston finished with 14 hits, 12 of them singles. The Red Sox amassed 33 hits in the three games, including five by Ortiz, but even more impressive was it limited the Orioles to seven runs over 27 innings.
“That’s why they were the last team standing last year,” Baltimore Manager Buck Showalter said. “They pitched better than everybody else for the most part, and I don’t think I’m telling anybody anything they don’t know. You pitch real well, you’ve got a chance to play extra games at the end of the year.”
Doubront (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in 52/3 innings, and Boston’s bullpen maintained its 0.00 ERA with 31/3 innings of three-hit relief.
Chris Capuano got three straight outs in the seventh, Junichi Tazawa worked the eighth and Koji Uehara needed only seven pitches to retire the side in the ninth for his first save.
Boston’s bullpen allowed six hits over 71/3 innings in the series.
“That’s going to be critical until we get to the point where we can push the starters a little bit more, or until their efficiency continues to climb,” Red Sox Manager John Farrell said.
All told, there wasn’t much to complain about. Boston’s only loss in the series was in the opener, 2-1.
“If you can start the season winning a series, that’s what you want to do,” third baseman Will Middlebrooks said. “Especially with a team like Baltimore, as good as they are and the staff they have. We’re pretty happy with it.”
Bogaerts added, “I’m really happy the way things are going so far. We lost the first one but we came right back and won the next two.”
Matt Wieters had three hits for the Orioles, and Chris Davis had two hits and scored twice, but it wasn’t enough to win the deciding game of the series.
“They threw well against us in three games, but you know, luckily it’s a long season,” shortstop J.J. Hardy said. “We’ll see them again.”
Chen (0-1) gave up four runs in 52/3 innings. He yielded 11 singles, one double and didn’t issue a walk. He left in the sixth after Middlebrooks doubled and scored on a two-out single by Jackie Bradley Jr. to put Boston ahead 4-2.
“I allowed a lot of hits. That’s what I have to work on,” Chen said through an interpreter. “I didn’t allow a big inning. That’s what I’m happy about.”