- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 1, 2009

BALTIMORE | Nick Markakis hit a two-run double off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon to complete the biggest comeback in Baltimore Orioles history, an 11-10 win Tuesday night before a mixture of delirious hometown fans and stunned Red Sox backers.

Baltimore trailed 10-1 before scoring five runs in the seventh inning and five more in the eighth. The rally was even more shocking because it came against a Boston team that had defeated the Orioles eight straight times, including five this season.

Up by nine runs in the seventh, the Red Sox probably figured the only lamentable aspect of the night was that John Smoltz wouldn’t get his long-awaited 211th victory because of a lengthy rain delay.

Boston had no idea how bad it would get.

Previously, the biggest comeback in Orioles history was Sept. 2, 1956, when Baltimore rallied from an eight-run deficit at Boston.

Mark Hendrickson (3-4) gave up one run in three innings, and George Sherrill got three outs for his 17th save.

Takashi Saito (2-1) took the loss, and Papelbon was charged with his second blown save one night after he tied Bob Stanley’s career record for saves with Boston.

Baltimore used seven hits in the seventh inning, including a three-run homer by pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar, to cut a 10-1 deficit to 10-6.

In the eighth, Ty Wigginton hit a sacrifice fly and Brian Roberts delivered an RBI single before Papelbon entered. The right-hander struck out Felix Pie before Markakis hit a double into the gap.

It had been 438 days since the 42-year-old Smoltz won a game, and it appeared certain the right-hander would end the drought when Boston took a 9-1 lead into the bottom of the fifth. But a fierce storm forced the game to be stopped for 71 minutes.

Thus ended Smoltz’s second start with Boston after a 20-year run with the Atlanta Braves. Five days earlier, he gave up five runs over five innings in a loss to Washington.

Smoltz signed with the Red Sox in January after a brutal 2008 season in which he was placed on the disabled list three times and underwent shoulder surgery in June. His last win was April 17, 2008, at Florida.

Smoltz allowed one run and three hits. He walked one and struck out two.

Kevin Youkilis and Jacoby Ellsbury homered for the Red Sox, and Dustin Pedroia had three RBI.

Before Boston blew its lead, it made a far less lamentable mistake. In the sixth inning, Boston’s infielders joined pitcher Justin Masterson in walking off the field with two outs in the sixth inning.

Thinking Pie’s grounder to shortstop was the third out, Masterson walked toward the Boston dugout and was followed by his infielders. All of them sheepishly returned after realizing their gaffe.

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