BALTIMORE — Late nights are nothing new for these Baltimore Orioles, not after spending their past 11 games on the West Coast.
Their internal clocks finally rewound back to East Coast time after Monday’s off day, the Orioles couldn’t control the elements Tuesday night against the Kansas City Royals. The Orioles went into a 48-minute rain delay with a two-run lead in the top of the seventh inning. But once the storms cleared, that lead quickly evaporated.
That simply set the stage for more late-inning heroics, this time from catcher Matt Wieters — who drove in three runs, including the winner with an eighth-inning double that proved to be the difference in a 4-3 win over the upstart Kansas City Royals in front of an announced 12,921 at Camden Yards.
It was their first game since they completed an 11-game road trip through Oakland, Seattle and Anaheim, Calif., with a 7-4 record.
With Tuesday’s win, the Orioles are 6-4 in one-run games.
Wieters, who also drove in two runs in the first inning, accounted for the winning run when he slapped a ball off Royals reliever Luke Hochevar that landed just inside the left field line to score Adam Jones from second.
“If you’re able to score on a team after they score on you, you’re gaining momentum back,” Wieters said. “And vice versa, when you get some runs, you want to go out there and shut them down for a few innings.”
Closer Jim Johnson converted his 33rd straight regular season save by retiring the Royals in the ninth.
After play resumed from the rain delay, left-handed reliever Brian Matusz — who has dazzled since moving to the bullpen — allowed a game-tying two-run homer to Alex Gordon in the eighth. It snapped Matusz’s streak of stranding 26 straight inherited runners since becoming a reliever.
Before the delay, lefty Wei-Yin Chen held the Royals to one run, scattering nine hits over 61 / 3 innings and just 80 pitches for his fifth quality start in eight outings this season. He struck out two and walked none.
Chen entered with a 7.59 ERA against Kansas City in two previous starts.
On Tuesday, Chen danced around danger. He was aided by three double plays, including ones that ended the fifth and sixth innings.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy also turned in a spectacular diving play on the edge of the outfield grass and threw out Royals catcher Salvador Perez from his knees by a half-step.
Despite throwing first-pitch balls to seven of the first 10 hitters he faced, Chen held a free-swinging Royals lineup in check.
In surging within one game of the American League Central lead, the Royals’ strength had been their pitching.
— Baltimore Sun