BALTIMORE — At 26, Joe Kelly isn’t much older than many of the prospects the Red Sox are considering for their rotation next season. The righthander has spent only parts of three years in the majors and has yet to make more than 16 starts in a season.

But Sunday afternoon’s game against the Baltimore Orioles offered further proof that Kelly is already part of the solution for the Sox and not just a name on the long list of possibilities.

Kelly pitched seven strong innings as the Red Sox beat the Orioles, 3-2, before a crowd of 38,329 at Camden Yards. He allowed two runs on three hits.

“His stuff plays anywhere. As far as stuff goes, he’s one of the better guys I’ve ever caught,” catcher David Ross said. “He can really run it up there, he locates, he’s got a tough breaking ball.”

Kelly had a two-hit shutout through five innings. A four-pitch leadoff walk of Alejandro De Aza in the sixth inning led to two runs. David Lough doubled to drive in De Aza. A deep fly ball and a ground out scored Lough.

Kelly, who walked three and struck out five, finished his outing well from there. Tommy Layne, Burke Badenhop, and Edward Mujica (eighth save) got the final six outs.

Kelly had a good start for the St. Louis Cardinals against the Red Sox in Game 3 of the World Series last fall, pitching into the sixth inning and allowing two runs. That he was available at the trade deadline delighted the Red Sox, even though it involved giving up the trustworthy John Lackey.

“That guy has good stuff. The ball is heavy,” David Ortiz said. “It’s hard to do …read more