DETROIT — Before the Baltimore Orioles placed their series hopes on left-hander Zach Britton, Manager Buck Showalter said the 24-year-old got the opportunity to start Saturday’s game against the Detroit Tigers by circumstance, not by merit.
And with that, Britton took a huge step forward, throwing his best game of the year. He held a dangerous Detroit Tigers lineup scoreless for seven innings in a 3-2 win at Comerica Park.
It was the Orioles’ 12th consecutive victory in one-run games, tying a franchise record achieved three other times — most recently June 2-July 8, 1979. The O’s (65-55) are 23-6 in one-run games this year.
With an announced sellout crowd of 42,132 at Comerica Park, the game had a playoff feel — and definitely had playoff implications. With the win, the Orioles took sole possession of the second American League wild-card spot after entering the day tied with the Tigers. The Orioles also gained a game on the New York Yankees, cutting their deficit in the AL East to six games.
The game was scoreless until the top of the seventh inning, when Chris Davis hit a three-run opposite-field homer off Tigers starter Rick Porcello.
Davis’s homer was his first in 65 at-bats, dating back to a grand slam against the Yankees in the Bronx on July 31.
Adam Jones opened the inning with a single, and Matt Wieters added an infield single to second base. That brought up Davis, who hit a 1-1 fastball into the Tigers’ bullpen in left field.
Davis’s 19th homer of the season came on a ball that he seemingly barely got a hold off. He hit Porcello’s delivery off the end of his bat and got very little of his body behind his swing.
But that provided enough offense for Britton, who allowed just six hits in seven innings.
It was the first time Britton has thrown seven or more scoreless innings in his past 12 major league starts, going back nearly a year when he tossed seven shutout innings against the Yankees on Aug. 28, 2011.
The Tigers scored two runs off setup man Pedro Strop — snapping Strop’s streak of 17 consecutive scoreless outings — on Jhonny Peralta’s two-out, two-run single in the eighth.
Closer Jim Johnson locked down his 36th save with a perfect ninth.