DAVID GINSBURG, AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — If nothing else, the opening series of the regular season provided the Baltimore Orioles a good look at what could be their main source of competition this year.
The Boston Red Sox got 12 hits off Wei-Yin Chen and beat the Orioles 4-3 Thursday night in the decisive matchup of a three-game set.
Boston amassed 33 hits in the three games and allowed only seven runs. In other words, the Red Sox played like defending World Series champions.
“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.”
Matt Wieters had three hits for the Orioles and Chris Davis had two hits and scored twice, but it wasn’t enough.
“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 5 2-3 innings. The left-hander yielded 11 singles, one double and did not issue a walk. He left in the sixth after Will 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.”
Showalter was pleased with Chen’s ability to keep it close on a night in which the Red Sox collected nine hits over the first four innings.
“He gave us a good chance to win. I’m proud of him,” the manager said. “He threw the ball pretty well, all things considered. We’ll take that. Scattered some hits. Three or four of them the cheap variety.”
David Ortiz had three hits off Chen and Boston’s Xander Bogaerts also finished with three hits. The 21-year-old shortstop has reached in eight of 12 plate appearances, collecting five hits and three walks.
Felix Doubront (1-0) allowed two runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings, and Boston’s bullpen maintained its 0.00 ERA with 3 1-3 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 7 1-3 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, a 2-1 decision.
“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.”
Baltimore chased Doubront in the bottom of the sixth. Davis singled, took third on a single by Wieters and scored on a wild pitch by Brandon Workman to make it 4-3.
And that is how it ended.
Chen gave up singles to four of the first six batters he faced but got a pair of double plays to avoid extensive damage. After Boston put runners on the corners and no outs in the second inning, Bogaerts scored on a double-play grounder.
The Red Sox made it 2-0 in the third. With two outs, Bradley scored from first base when a bloop single by Ortiz eluded the grasp of a diving Nelson Cruz.
Three singles, the last by David Ross, put Boston up 3-0 in the fourth. The Orioles scored two in the bottom half on doubles by Davis and Wieters, along with an RBI single by Delmon Young.
NOTES: Ericka Brannock, who lost most of her left leg in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Brannock is a preschool teacher in Towson, Md. … The Red Sox will receive their World Series rings in a pregame ceremony Friday before opening the home portion of their schedule against Milwaukee. Boston has won a franchise-record nine straight home openers. … Baltimore hits the road to face the Detroit Tigers on Friday afternoon. Miguel Gonzalez starts for the Orioles against Anibal Sanchez. … Baltimore’s Ryan Flaherty went 0 for 4 and is hitless in 11 at-bats this season. … After hitting a home run in each of his first two games with Baltimore, Cruz went 0 for 4 with a strikeout.
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