BALTIMORE — J.J. Hardy’s two-run single in the seventh inning broke a tie and lifted the Baltimore Orioles to a 9-7 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday night.
With the win before an announced 21,114 at Camden Yards, the Orioles posted their fourth sweep of three or more games this season. More impressive, the Orioles finished off their longest homestand of the year with a 9-2 record, outscoring the Tampa Bay Rays, Minnesota Twins and Reds by a combined 67-38.
They hit 22 homers in those 11 contests, including one each Thursday by Nelson Cruz, Nick Hundley and Jonathan Schoop, who has gone deep in three consecutive games.
Cruz and Hundley homered in Baltimore’s six-run first inning against Mike Leake, who allowed a season-high seven runs in a season-low four innings.
The Orioles (82-57) have secured their third consecutive winning season after failing to post one from 1998 to 2011. They maintained their 91 / 2-game lead in the American League East over the second-place New York Yankees, who beat Boston.
The Reds (66-74) scratched back from deficits of 6-0 and 7-2 to tie it at 7-7 on the strength of a four-run seventh against reliever Brad Brach, who has had two rough outings in five days after stringing together 12 scoreless outings.
Brach gave up three hits, a walk and four runs — Tommy Hunter allowed an inherited runner to score — while recording just two outs. The big blow against Brach was a two-run double by Devin Mesoraco, who had four RBI, including a solo home run and a sacrifice fly against starter Chris Tillman.
Hunter (3-2) picked up the final out in the seventh and threw a scoreless eighth for the win, and closer Zach Britton notched his 33rd save by not allowing a run in the ninth.
Baltimore is 22-0 in games in which they have hit at least three home runs.