- Associated Press - Monday, March 31, 2014

BALTIMORE (AP) - Grady Sizemore will never forget his first opening day with the Boston Red Sox.

His teammates, however, can’t wait to put the memory of the game behind them.

The defending World Series champion Red Sox failed to capitalize on several scoring opportunities, and a home run by Sizemore wasn’t enough to prevent a 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday.

After missing two seasons recovering from knee surgery, Sizemore marked his return from a 922-day absence with a second-inning single for his first hit since September 2011. The three-time All-Star for Cleveland later hit his first homer since July 15, 2011, which also came at Camden Yards.

“Today was very exciting,” Sizemore said. “I couldn’t wait to get to the ballpark.”

The single was particularly gratifying, because it came on his first at-bat.

“Having gone through what I’ve gone through, it was nice to get that moment,” Sizemore said.

His homer created a 1-1 tie in the fourth inning, but that would be the extent of the Boston offense. The Red Sox got nine hits and drew three walks, but they stranded 12 and went 0 for 10 with runners in scoring position.

“There were a lot of opportunities that we did create but didn’t cash in,” manager John Farrell said. “The two-out hit was elusive.”

Second baseman Dustin Pedroia, who went 2 for 5, added, “We just hit the ball right at people. It was one of those deals where we couldn’t find a way to push runs across.”

Nelson Cruz homered off Jon Lester (0-1) in the seventh inning to put the Orioles up 2-1. Cruz hit 27 homers last year with Texas during a season marred by a 50-game suspension from Major League Baseball in the Biogenesis drug scandal.

“It was really neat, it was special,” he said. “I made the right call to come and be part of this organization, be part of this town.”

Zach Britton (1-0) got the win with two scoreless innings of relief and Tommy Hunter got three outs for the save. Hunter earned the job as closer this spring after the Orioles dealt away Jim Johnson during the offseason.

The Red Sox got two on with one out in the ninth before World Series MVP David Ortiz hit a flyball and Jackie Bradley Jr. took a called third strike.

Making his fourth straight opening day start for Boston, Lester gave up two runs, six hits and a walk in seven innings. He struck out eight.

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