CLEVELAND — The Baltimore Orioles have been victims of the big inning recently, when everything seemingly collapses around the starting pitcher.
On Friday night, the Orioles finally saw it from a different vantage point.
They pounded the Cleveland Indians, 10-2, for their second most lopsided victory of the season. It included a six-run third against veteran right-hander Derek Lowe — the most runs the Orioles have scored in one frame since May 5.
The Orioles (49-44) have now won at least three straight for the first time since mid-June, when they captured five consecutive against the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates.
After two one-run victories in Minnesota, Baltimore made Friday’s game a laugher in the third. Mark Reynolds had a bases-loaded, two-run double, Ryan Flaherty blasted a three-run homer and Matt Wieters added a RBI ground out, all against Lowe (8-8). The inning could have been worse but left fielder Johnny Damon dove into the stands to catch a foul ball, handing Lowe his second out of the third.
The sinkerballer’s offerings weren’t sinking, and the Orioles took advantage of Lowe’s elevated pitches. They scored two more in the fourth, one on Jim Thome’s first Orioles’ homer — and seventh of the season.
The 418-foot shot to right was the 610th home run of Thome’s career, breaking a tie with former Oriole Sammy Sosa and catapulting Thome to sole possession of seventh place on the all-time home run list. Thome, a longtime Indian who received a warm ovation from the announced crowd of 33,954, had three hits to lead an 11-hit attack.
Friday’s offensive onslaught actually started poorly for Baltimore, which scored once in the first on a Lowe wild pitch that was set up by a liner that Damon failed to catch. In the second, they put runners on second and third with no outs and failed to score.
But the 39-year-old Lowe couldn’t stop the bleeding, and was charged with nine earned runs on seven hits and five walks in just three innings, his second shortest outing of 2012.
His counterpart on the mound, right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, was able to turn around a shaky beginning and, once handed a 9-1 lead, morph it into a quality performance.
Gonzalez, making just his third start of his big-league career, yielded a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera on his sixth pitch of the night. He then served up a well-struck double, walked a batter and hit another in the first, but wiggled out of the 25-pitch inning by getting Damon to ground out.
He remained in charge for the rest of the game before giving up a two-out homer to Jack Hannahan. Gonzalez (2-1) lasted 62 / 3 innings, allowing two runs on seven hits and two walks. He struck out five and threw a career-high 114 pitches.
It was his second quality start and Baltimore’s third straight. The Orioles hadn’t had three consecutive quality starts since May 25-27.
The 10-2 victory was the Orioles’ largest margin of victory since beating the Oakland A’s 10-1 on April 28. The Indians (47-46) have lost five of their last seven games.