BALTIMORE — Following a 55-minute rain delay Saturday night, the Baltimore Orioles found new life against the Houston Astros.
Closer Tommy Hunter had just blown a one-run lead in the top of the ninth before a downpour descended on Camden Yards. But when the clouds moved out, the Orioles rallied with two outs in the ninth to force the game into extra innings.
Down to their last out, the Orioles loaded the bases before pinch hitter Delmon Young beat out an infield hit to shortstop to drive in the tying run.
One inning later, catcher Steve Clevenger — starting while Matt Wieters rests his sore elbow — delivered a game-winning, one-out double down the right field line off Paul Clemens to give the Orioles a 5-4 walk-off win in 10 innings.
With the win, the Orioles (20-14) have won a season-high five straight games, are now six games above .500 and sit atop the American League East by 1½ games over the New York Yankees.
J.J. Hardy reached on a one-out infield single to short and scored from first base on Clevenger’s hit, sliding into home and into a celebration at the plate.
Ryan Webb (2-0) stranded the go-ahead run on second base in a scoreless top of the 10th and earned the win.
Hunter, who entered the night having converted 11 of 12 save opportunities, couldn’t hold a one-run, ninth-inning lead. Had he been able to preserve the lead in the top of the ninth before it started to rain, the Orioles might have already been in their beds by the time the game went into extra innings.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Nelson Cruz gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead by crushing his team-leading 10th homer.
Cruz took Josh Zeid’s first pitch of the inning into the Orioles bullpen in left-center field, his fifth homer of the season that has given the Orioles the lead.
Chris Carter started the rally against Hunter with a one-out single on an 0-2 pitch. Marc Krauss followed with a double to place runners at second and third.
Jonathan Villar hit a grounder to second against a drawn-in infield, and the Orioles caught pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez in a rundown between third and home. But the Astros still had runners at second and third.
Jose Altuve followed with a looping single into center field to plate two runs. Villar beat Adam Jones’s throw home, and Hunter was replaced by left-hander Troy Patton.
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez was unspectacular but grinded out his longest outing of the season, keeping his pitch count down to toss seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks.
The Orioles went into the late innings able to do little against Astros starter Collin McHugh.
The Orioles had just two hits against McHugh and trailed 2-0 until Jones took an 0-1 pitch to straightaway center for his fourth homer of the season with two outs in the sixth inning.
Hardy scored the tying run in the bottom of the seventh on a wild pitch, setting up the back-and-forth final innings that were interrupted by the delay.
— Baltimore Sun