BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles are definitely no stranger to extra innings, and in building a record of success in extra frames they have become a group whose confidence seems to grow with the inning. Through the tense moments of free baseball, when one mistake can cost a team a win, the Orioles have regularly figured out ways to win those games.
And as Tuesday night went into early Wednesday morning, the Orioles continued their torrid success in extras. Adam Jones’s bases-loaded single in the 14th inning capped a four-hour, 55-minute test of survival, giving the Orioles their 12th straight extra-inning win, 8-7, over the Seattle Mariners.
The Orioles 12 extra-inning wins are the most in the majors, and this one came after they scraped back from an early five-run deficit. Baltimore (59-51) improved to 23-6 in one-run games. Eighteen of its last 31 games have been decided by three or fewer runs.
The win, combined with the Yankees’ 6-5 loss to Detroit, put the Orioles just 41 / 2 games back of the Yankees in the American League East, marking the first time Baltimore has been less than five games behind the division leaders since they were four games back June 29.
Jones’s game-winning hit came after Omar Quintanilla reached on a questionable call when first base umpire Brian Knight ruled that Seattle first baseman Mike Carp’s foot came off the bag taking a throw from second on a grounder. Mariners Manager Eric Wedge was ejected from the game for arguing the call.
Nick Markakis singled to center, and J.J. Hardy’s sacrifice bunt moved both baserunners into scoring position. Shawn Kelley intentionally walked Chris Davis to load the based to create a double-play opportunity.
But that’s when Jones, who has been the poster boy for the Orioles’ late-inning heroics, laced a 1-2 pitch to right, falling just in front of a sliding Casper Wells to drive in the winning run.
After falling behind by five runs after two innings, the Orioles rallied to tie the game at 7 in the seventh on Hardy’s three-run homer off reliever Lucas Luetge.
Matt Wieters played a big part in helping the Orioles peck away at a large Seattle lead with two solo homers off starter Blake Beavan, both to straightaway center field. It was Wieters’s third career two-homer game and second this season.
Hardy’s 16th homer of the season — which brought the announced crowd of 15,433 at Camden Yards of its feet — capped a four-run seventh inning.
Quintanilla’s seeing-eye single up the middle scored Mark Reynolds, who opened that inning with a leadoff double. Markakis’s third hit of the night, a bloop single to left, put two on for Hardy, who took a 0-1 sinker from Luetge into the left-field stands. Nine of Hardy’s 16 homers have either tied the score or given the Orioles the lead.
The Orioles’ starting pitching had been spectacular over the previous four games, allowing just three total runs in that span, but left hander Zach Britton continued to struggle Tuesday.
The Orioles bullpen picked up Britton, with six different relievers combining for nine scoreless innings, including two scoreless innings each from Matt Lindstrom and Darren O’Day.
A mistake-riddled first inning began a long night for the 24-year-old Britton and raised further questions about his immediate future.
Britton allowed seven runs — just four of them earned — on eight hits over five-plus inning. A three-run homer by Kyle Seager with two outs in the first set the tone. Seager’s homer to right center field came after Britton couldn’t glove a nubber in front of the mound from the first hitter of the game. After Britton struck out the next two batters, Jesus Montero hit a sharp grounder to third that went past Wilson Betemit but was ruled a hit.
With runners at the corners, Seager took a 1-0 pitch into the right-center field stands, the first of two homers Britton allowed in the first two innings as he fell behind 5-0. He also allowed a solo homer to Miguel Olivo with one out in the second.
Britton faced eight batters in the second and totaled 41 pitches after two innings.
Britton was charged with two more runs in the sixth, but one was unearned, coming after a fielding error by Wilson Betemit at third.
It was the latest of a disturbing trend of early-inning problems for Britton, who has given up 13 runs in the first two innings of his last three starts.
Britton has given up four of more runs and failed to go six innings in four of his five starts this season. He’s allowed 17 earned runs in 131 / 3 innings over his last three starts for an 11.48 ERA.
Baltimore’s bullpen, however, continued its success.
After left hander Troy Patton pitched 11 / 3 scoreless innings in relief, Luis Ayala overcame two one-out singles in the ninth, getting Wells to fly out to center and winning a nine-pitch battle with Carp, fielding a slow grounder down the first base line and throwing to first in time for the out to end the inning.
Pedro Strop extended his scoreless-outing streak to 14 with a scoreless 10th inning, and Lindstrom followed with two scoreless innings.
Late-inning third base subsitution Robert Andino made a game-saving play in the 13th, making a diving play into the hole to rob Seager of a hit with runners on first and second with two outs.