Orioles baseball: Cruz blasts 20th home run as Baltimore ends skid by halting Astros’ streak


Baltimore’s Caleb Joseph (36), Adam Jones (10), Zach Britton (53) and David Lough celebrate after defeating Houston, 4-1, on Saturday. The win snapped a four-game skid for the Orioles. (Patric Schneider/AP)

Baltimore’s offensive output against the Houston Astros on Saturday afternoon couldn’t be confused with an explosion, but it was more than enough to finally scrape out an essential win three days into their trip to Texas.

An Orioles team that often draws criticism for its aggressiveness at the plate allowed patience to guide it to a much-needed win.

The Orioles took advantage of Astros left-hander Dallas Keuchel’s control problems, scoring two runs on a pair of bases-loaded walks in the fifth inning on their way to a 4-1 win over the Astros before an announced 29,609 at Minute Maid Park.

After the Orioles scored five runs over their previous three games, their four runs were more than enough to end their four-game losing streak and the Astros’ seven-game winning streak.

Designated hitter Nelson Cruz continued his power surge, hitting his major league-leading 20th homer and driving in three runs.

Meanwhile, struggling ace Chris Tillman found his groove, holding Houston to one run on four hits over 62 / 3 innings for his first win since May 16.

“I think we needed it, not just him,” Orioles Manager Buck Showalter said. “You know, very quietly, as much as we keep talking about some of the quality pitching against us, our guys have pitched pretty well. And you’ve got to do it, as good as their starters are. Keuchel’s been as good a pitcher probably been in the league this year. He’s been solid.”

The Orioles (27-27) had scored two runs over the first two games of this series and had drawn one walk over a span of 28 innings before Keuchel issued three free passes in the fifth.

“I’ll say it again: You can’t take until you hit. There’s a fine line between it. You know the guy’s going to be around the plate. He makes a living out of having a pitch appear in the middle of the plate and take you off the sweet part of the bat,” Showalter said. “We’ve had a lot of weak contact off their pitchers and not a whole lot of strikeouts, but that’s quality pitching is what it is.”

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