The Washington Post

Baltimore Orioles hang on for 4-3 win over Cleveland Indians


Baltimore’s J.J. Hardy is greeted by Jim Thome after launching a two-run homer in the first inning of the Orioles’ fifth victory in a row, a 4-3 triumph in Cleveland. (Jason Miller/Getty Images)

Zach Britton was the last of the Baltimore Orioles’ touted young starters to make it to the big leagues from Class AAA this season.

It took until his second start to fall in line with a recent trend.

Britton threw six scoreless innings and the Orioles escaped a Cleveland rally in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Indians, 4-3, for their fifth straight win and fifth consecutive quality start.

The Orioles (51-44), who revamped their rotation earlier this month, have had just one other stretch of five consecutive quality starts this season — from April 28 to May 2.

This run matches their longest winning streak of the year, set three times already this season. Baltimore goes for a four-game sweep over Cleveland (47-48) on Monday.

Britton (1-0) was the story, bouncing back from a rough season debut on Tuesday when he coughed up a three-run lead and lasted just four-plus innings.

He had allowed just three hits and no walks through five innings before running into trouble in the sixth. He loaded the bases with two outs but froze Carlos Santana with a 93-mph fastball for a called strike three to escape the threat. Santana tossed his helmet in frustration over the strike call.

That was Britton’s last batter. He allowed four hits and two walks while striking out five in six innings.

It was a key early moment in the game — one in which Baltimore took the lead before making an out.

Nick Markakis began the game with a single to the left side that shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera made a tremendous play to grab. But he couldn’t throw out the hard-charging Markakis at first.

The hustle paid off when J.J. Hardy followed with his 14th home run of the year, a 361-foot shot to left against Cleveland right-hander Josh Tomlin (5-7).

Tomlin labored throughout the warm afternoon, but the Orioles didn’t score again against the him. He lasted six innings, giving up eight hits and striking out two.

Hardy picked up his third RBI — tying a season-high — with a single in the seventh. He nearly struck out on the at-bat, but plate umpire Vic Carapazza ruled that he fouled off a ball that he appeared to miss with two strikes.

Baltimore added a run in the eighth when Wilson Betemit hit a 438-foot homer against former Oriole Jeremy Accardo. It was Betemit’s first homer since June 26.

Luis Ayala threw two scoreless innings of relief before serving up a two-run, one-out homer to Santana in the ninth. Jim Johnson entered and immediately gave up a long double off the left-field wall to Shelley Duncan.

Pinch hitter Travis Hafner followed with a single to right to make it 4-3. With two outs, Johnson walked Shin-Soo Choo, moving the tying runner to second. But he struck out Cabrera for his 30th save of the season.

That allowed the Orioles to preserve an impressive mark this season. They are now 38-0 when leading after seven innings. The Pittsburgh Pirates are the only other team in the majors undefeated in that situation.

— Baltimore Sun

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