Seven-run 3rd inning helps Red Sox snap skid, drop O's

BOSTON (AP) -- David Wells finally gave the Boston Red Sox the kind of outing they had been waiting for all season.

Making his third start since coming off his third stint on the disabled list, the 43-year-old left-hander pitched seven solid innings Friday night and the Red Sox snapped a five-game losing streak with a 9-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.

"A game like that shows he can still do it," Boston manager Terry Francona said. "He just needed some time. If you can count on him to make his starts, he always gives us a chance to win."

Wells (1-2) allowed nine hits, giving up his only run on a pair of doubles in the seventh. He left after seven to a standing ovation, waving his glove to the fans who were hoping he could return to form to stop the team's freefall in the AL East.

Boston had dropped three games behind the Yankees in the division by losing five in a row at Tampa Bay and Kansas City -- a pair of last-place teams. But, back at home, the Red Sox beat the Orioles for the 14th time in 15 tries.

"There were a lot of reasons for us not to be real upbeat today," Francona said. "We didn't let that happen. That's a very good sign."

Mike Lowell recovered from a frightful first-inning beaning to make an into-the-stands catch and then singled in a run, stole a base and scored in Boston's seven-run third. The Red Sox moved two games behind New York, which lost 7-4 to the Los Angeles Angels.

"I think we understand this is a very important part of our season," Lowell said. "I don't think anyone was satisfied or happy with how the road trip turned out and I think we wanted to make a conscious effort to make a statement that we're not going to fold in that situation."

Wells, who did not talk to reporters after the game, took a line drive off his right knee on May 26 and went on the DL for the third time this season. He allowed eight runs in his return on July 31 and five runs -- but just one earned -- last Saturday.

Rookie lefty Adam Loewen (2-4) was hoping to build on the two longest outings of his career, lasting six innings against the Mariners on July 31 before holding the Yankees to one hit in 6 1/3 scoreless innings last Saturday. But he got just seven outs, allowing six runs and six hits with two walks, striking out three.

He also hit Lowell in the first with a fastball to the helmet that dropped the Boston third baseman to the dirt.

"It was pretty scary," Loewen said. "I was praying for him as soon as I saw it hit him. But he bounced back with a great game and that shows how great of a competitor he is."

And a good thing for Boston, too.

In the top of the third, Lowell went hard over the wall to catch Nick Markakis' popup, falling into the seats over the short wall along the third-base line and landing in front of a man with a Yankees cap.

"I saw that," Lowell said afterward. "I actually gave him three baseballs between innings because I saw on the replay he moved back out of the way. So I gave him three balls, I wrote, 'Next time, catch me.'"

The Red Sox responded by sending 12 batters to the plate, matching their biggest inning of the season by scoring seven runs on five singles, three walks and Alex Gonzalez's two-run triple.

Manny Ramirez singled in the first, scoring Coco Crisp and
extending his hitting streak to 26 games -- the longest active streak in the majors and the seventh-longest in Red Sox history. He added another RBI single in the third.

Mark Loretta had three of Boston's 13 hits and a pair of RBI.

David Ortiz added some comic relief in the sixth when he doubled to left-center and then, while standing on second, got spun around trying to avoid the throw back to the infield. Ortiz then broke into a pose similar to the one-legged crane from the film "The Karate Kid," cracking up the Orioles' infield.

Wells had a shutout until Kevin Millar and Brian Roberts doubled in the seventh to make it 8-1. Corey Patterson led off the ninth with a homer for Baltimore that made it 9-2.

Game notes
Orioles right-hander Rodrigo Lopez made his first relief appearance since June 22, 2004. ... Wells struck out four and walked one. ... Boston right-hander Keith Foulke, who was expected to be activated from the disabled list, felt stiffness in his back and did not come off the DL. ... Roberts went 3-for-5. ... Ortiz received a shipment of 41
lobsters as a gift from Maine Gov. John Baldacci to celebrate the Red Sox slugger's 41 homers. Ortiz had said in an interview that he loves seafood but has never been to Maine. ... Baltimore is 12-28 in games started by lefty opponents.