BIG FIN­ISH FOR O'S

Ori­oles stage come­back, record last out at home plate to get 5-4 win over Rays

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Ed­uardo A. Encina

Be­fore the Ori­oles sealed their 5-4 vic­tory over the Tampa Bay Rays with one of their most dra­matic end­ings of the sea­son Fri­day night, they spent most of the game frus­trated at the plate.

The Ori­oles ended up ral­ly­ing from an early four-run hole, tak­ing the lead against the Rays bullpen with a re­silient two-run eighth in­ning, be­fore the game ended with Matt Wi­eters’ tag at the plate beat­ing Mikie Mah­took on Alexei Ramirez’s hit down the left-field line.

Left fielder Michael Bourn scooped the ball off the wall and re­layed to Manny Machado, who fired a pin­point throw home to ex­tend closer Zach Brit­ton’s save streak to 44. But it was the way the Ori­oles bucked their trend of win­ning games with the long ball that pointed to the unique­ness of the win.

The Ori­oles spent most of the past two nights swing­ing from their heels, hop­ing one swing could erase an­other early deficit. The re­sult was pure frus­tra­tion, with the Ori­oles’ best power hit­ters whiff­ing through pitches and squan­der­ing scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties all over the base paths.

With just over two weeks re­main­ing in the reg­u­lar sea­son, there’s no doubt the pres­sure is on for the Ori­oles. And as they open their sea­son-long 11-game fi­nal home­s­tand against the last-place Tampa Bay Rays, these games are as must-win as any.

While swing­ing for the fences isn’t any­thing dif­fer­ent from what the Ori­oles have done through­out this sea­son, and they have got­ten this far — in pos­ses­sion of one of the two Amer­i­can League wild cards and two games be­hind the di­vi­sion-lead­ing Bos­ton Red Sox — that wasn’t what won Fri­day night’s game.

It was a mix of pa­tient at-bats and small ball in an eighth-in­ning come­back.

The Ori­oles re­mained in the game with a pair of solo homers off Rays starter Chris Archer. Pe­dro Al­varez hit his 21st of the sea­son in the sec­ond in­ning and Chris Davis opened the fourth with his 38th. But the Ori­oles’ game-win­ning rally came to life af­ter free-swing­ing sec­ond base­man Jonathan Schoop worked a six-pitch walk against re­liever Brad Boxberger to start the eighth, and Al­varez fol­lowed with a fourpitch walk.

Wi­eters was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and J.J. Hardy’s in­field sin­gle into the hole at short al­lowed Schoop to score to tie the game. Af­ter a se­ries full of swing- ing for the fences, Bourn’s sac­ri­fice fly gave the Ori­oles the even­tual win­ning run, scor­ing pinch run­ner Nolan Reimold from third.

“There’s a lot of good at-bats there,” Ori­oles man­ager Buck Showal­ter said. “Jon, a very pa­tient walk. Matty got hit by a pitch. And I thought Pete had a real un­emo­tional at-bat. It’s so easy to get caught up in the emo­tion this time of the year and get out of your­self and try to get too ag­gres­sive with the game and not let it come to you.”

It was a com­bi­na­tion not seen of­ten over the first two games of the se­ries, which con­sisted of a pair of games that in­cluded ear­lyin­ning deficits that took the air out of Ori­ole Park. Fall­ing be­hind quickly placed the Ori­oles of­fense into a Septem­ber pres­sure-cooker, look­ing for a long ball on any pitch over the plate.

In the sev­enth in­ning of Fri­day night’s game, the Ori­oles trailed by one run with the bases loaded and one out. Hyun Soo Kim had just been robbed of a grand slam by Tampa Bay cen­ter fielder Kevin Kier­maier, who brought the ball back into the ball­park with a leap­ing grab over the fence. But the ball came out of his glove on the way down, giv­ing Kim the long­est of RBI sin­gles.

The Ori­oles didn’t even need a hit to tie the game, only a rea­son­able fly ball to the out­field. But slug­gers Machado and Davis struck out suc­ces­sively to end the in­ning.

“We had op­por­tu­ni­ties again tonight, and that was the game tonight that we re­ally needed to win,” Wi­eters said. It was Bourn, a player added in a trade with the Ari­zona Di­a­mond­backs last month to add cor­ner-out­field de­fense, speed and con­tact, who was able to lift a ball to left when the team’s slug­gers couldn’t over the past two games.

Said Bourn: “I hit two [home runs]. I don’t do that on a reg­u­lar [ba­sis]. Mine I just kind of run into. I just try to play base­ball. That’s all I know how to do in ev­ery facet of the game, and do what I can do.”

PA­TRICK SE­MAN­SKY/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Catcher Matt Wi­eters ends the game by tag­ging out the Rays’ Mikie Mah­took at home plate. Mah­took was try­ing to score from first on a sin­gle to deep left off Zach Brit­ton, but Michael Bourn fielded the ball and threw it to Manny Machado, who fired home to pre­serve the vic­tory.

ROB CARR/GETTY IM­AGES

Nolan Reimold puts the Ori­oles ahead 5-4 on Michael Bourn’s sac­ri­fice fly in the eighth in­ning. The Ori­oles fell be­hind 4-0 in the sec­ond, then scored sin­gle runs in the sec­ond, fourth and sev­enth and two in the eighth.

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