BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles waited more than two hours after the scheduled first pitch for their first at-bat against the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday night.
Following a pair of rain delays, Orioles leadoff hitter Nick Markakis didn’t step into the batter’s box until nearly 9:30 p.m., but once he did, the homer-happy Orioles put together a rare clinic on station-to-station baseball.
They pounded Reds right-hander Mat Latos for four runs in the opening frame on five hits — all singles — and held on for a 5-4 win over Cincinnati in front of an announced 15,021 at Camden Yards.
This was just the seventh game between the Orioles and Reds since the franchises met in the 1970 World Series, which ended in the Orioles’ second championship.
And on Tuesday, the Orioles’ win — combined with the New York Yankees loss to Boston — cut their magic number to clinch the AL East to 17.
The Orioles (80-57) also extended their division lead over the Yankees to 9 ½ games, tying their largest lead of the season. The win also put the Orioles within three wins of the best record in the majors, which is currently held by the Angels (83-54).
The O’s have won 30 of their past 32 games when scoring four or more runs. They are also 22-7 at home since June 30.
Tuesday night’s game plodded along, ending well after midnight. The Orioles led 5-0 before right-hander Darren O’Day allowed a grand slam to Jay Bruce in an ugly eighth inning that turned a one-sided game into a one-run game.
The start of Tuesday’s game was delayed by rain by 23 minutes and another band of storms halted the game just two batters into the top of the first inning.
Following a 1-hour, 46-minute second delay, the Orioles sent eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the first.