BALTIMORE — They throw to the wrong base. They give away outs. They've allowed the most runs in the American League. But thanks to an eighth-inning home run by Maikel Franco, the Baltimore Orioles haven't been no-hit.

Not yet, at least.

Franco, who stayed alive with two strikes and two outs when a breaking ball a few inches in the strike zone was called a ball, launched the Orioles’ first hit of the game into their bullpen to spare their blushes in a 10-2 loss to the Houston Astros before 7,414 fans at Camden Yards that had a chance to be the wrong kind of memorable but instead goes into the overflowing bucket of lopsided losses.

They’ve now lost 11 of 12, and this one felt weird from the start. Delayed for an hour by sheets of rain, most in attendance were more interested in jeering Astros stars José Altuve and Carlos Correa for the 2017 sign-stealing scandal in their World Series season. They weren’t much interested in cheering for the Orioles, who cooperated by not giving them much worth supporting.

Before DJ Stewart’s one-out walk in the fifth inning, they didn’t have a base runner. A deep fly to center field from Pedro Severino off starter Jake Odorizzi in the third inning was mildly threatening, but with an expected batting average of .360, wasn’t more than that.

That changed some once Cristian Javier took over for Odorizzi in the sixth inning. Hard-hit, sinking line drives from Severino, Freddy Galvis, and Ryan Mountcastle were all caught at the shoestrings to help complete seven hitless innings.

But before the Orioles got a chance to bat in the eighth, the rain returned and delayed the game for 41 more minutes.

In that eighth, Austin Hays was hit on the head with a pitch by reliever Brandon Bielak before Franco got a lifeline from home plate umpire Angel Hernández and saved the no-hitter from stretching into the ninth with his ninth home run of the season.

Even without the Orioles’ offensive futility, it would have taken a lot more than they offered to make this a game. Rookie left-hander Keegan Akin had a pair of scoreless innings to open the game before Jason Castro doubled to open the third and, after a four-pitch walk to Altuve, scored on a single by Chas McCormick.

That the Orioles again gave away a free base on Austin Hays’s throw home satisfied their requirement for a defensive lapse, and after another walk and a sacrifice fly by Yuli Gurriel, an emphatic three-run home run by Yordan Álvarez made it 5-0 in a hurry.

Akin pitched into the fifth inning, yielding five runs on six hits with four walks and five strikeouts to bring his ERA to 6.42. By then, it was less a concern who was pitching for the Orioles in the top half compared to whether they’d manage a hit in the home half.

Once they did, the Orioles avoided their first no-hitter since Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners kept them hitless on August 12, 2015 in Seattle. The only no-hitter at Camden Yards remains the one pitched by Hideo Nomo with the Boston Red Sox on April 4, 2001.

— Baltimore Sun