By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
7:13 PM EDT, September 7, 2013
The Orioles had more than their share of opportunities to put away the Chicago White Sox on Saturday afternoon at Camden Yards. But as scoring chances came and went, frustration mounted in the home dugout. Through 17 at-bats with runners in scoring position, the Orioles had just one hit, stranding 11 baserunners along the way.
But, down to their final out, the Orioles finally came though, as Matt Wieters hit a two-out, two-run single in the 10th inning off White Sox closer Addison Reed to deliver a 4-3 comeback win in front of an announced 23,653.
On one swing, frustration transformed into elation as the Orioles stormed the field and mobbed Wieters near first base to celebrate the club’s sixth walk-off win of the season and first since June 13 in Boston.
It appeared that the Orioles were on their way to one of the most deflating losses of the season after Conor Gillaspie broke a 2-2 tie with a pinch-hit solo homer off reliever Tommy Hunter (4-3) in the top of the 10th.
“It was huge … for us to come back and act like nothing happened,” said second baseman Brian Roberts, who hit his second homer in three games, a solo shot in the fifth. “Hopefully, this is one of those days you look back on later and say, ‘That was huge.’”
In the bottom of the 10th, rookie Henry Urrutia sparked life back into the home crowd with a one-out pinch-hit single. Nick Markakis followed with a bloop single to left. Two batters later, Wieters — who came into the game as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning — provided the game winning hit, lacing a 2-1 pitch from Reed (5-3) down the right-field line to score pinch runner Chris Dickerson and Markakis.
“You're in the dugout and you get a certain feel,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “There's a lot of people frustrated for the right reasons. And to end up on the good side of it, you're excited about that for our players, and for our fans.”
Said Wieters: “Keep getting opportunities, that's all you can ask for. Whether you succeed or not, you want that next opportunity to come to you and you want another chance.”
Before Wieters’ game-winning hit, the Orioles were 6-for-52 — a putrid .115 batting average — with runners in scoring position over the past six games.
“Gosh, if you give yourself enough chances with the lineup we have, you figure something is going to happen,” Roberts said. “We don’t have bad hitters on our team. That’s what you do. You try to continue to create opportunities. It took a lot today, but we finally got one.”
The victory gave the Orioles their first series win in their past four. They will go for a four-game sweep Sunday.
The Orioles (76-65) also won their third straight game for the first time in nearly a month — they took three in a row in San Diego and San Francisco Aug. 6-9 — and pulled to within 1 ½ games of the second American League wild-card spot pending the outcome of the Tampa Bay Rays’ game Saturday night in Seattle.
The Orioles also moved to 1 ½ games in front of the New York Yankees for third place in the AL East.
“We have to keep winning,” Wieters said. “It's go time now. There's no more get 'em later. It's go now and make our run.”
The Orioles used some aggressive baserunning to put two men in scoring position in the bottom of the 10th. Dickerson went from first to third on Markakis’ bloop single that fell in front of left fielder Alejandro De Aza and between three White Sox defenders.
“If he makes a spectacular play then he makes a spectacular play,” Dickerson said of De Aza. “But that's a ball [where] you have to be on third base. It's one of those things [where I] just got a good read and was on third standing up. I was just hoping at that point that we didn't have the misfortune again of not capitalizing on some good opportunities.”
Markakis then stole second base to take away a double-play opportunity.
“You're going by so many things,” Showalter said. “[Reed] is usually 1.2, 1.3 [seconds to the plate] and he had gotten up to 1.6, 1.7 there.”
Designated hitter Danny Valencia was 3-for-4 on the day and hit leadoff doubles in the second and eighth innings, but he was stranded both times. Valencia, who has had multiple hits in eight of his past nine games, was also stranded at third with one out in the fourth.
After Roberts led off the fifth with a homer to make it 2-2, the Orioles placed runners at the corners with no outs but couldn’t score when the next three batters failed to get the ball out of the infield.
The Orioles took a 1-0 lead four batters into the bottom of the first on Chris Davis’ two-out double to score Manny Machado, who singled earlier in the inning. Davis’ double was his majors-leading 87th extra-base hit of the season.
Davis’ RBI was his 124th of the season, tying him with Eddie Murray (1985) for fourth on the Orioles’ single-season list.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen retired 10 of the first 11 batters he faced before back-to-back hits in the fourth — a one-out double by Alexei Ramirez and Paul Konerko's RBI single — tied the game at 1.
Dayan Viciedo put the White Sox (56-85) up 2-1 in the top of the fifth inning, belting a solo homer to center field on a 2-2 pitch from Chen.
Chen allowed two runs on five hits, removed after six innings and 99 pitches. For most of the afternoon, Chen kept the White Sox off balance, striking out seven and walking none. Chen owns a 2.63 ERA in three career starts against Chicago.
“I didn’t really worry about my velocity, I just worried about my location,” Chen said through interpreter Tim Lin. “And pretty much my location was really good today.”
Right-hander Darren O’Day tossed two scoreless innings in relief of Chen. He overcame a leadoff single in the eighth by pinch hitter Jordan Danks when catcher Chris Snyder threw out Danks attempting to steal second. Snyder’s throw skipped in front of Roberts, but the second baseman corralled it and applied a sweep tag in time. Jim Johnson needed just eight pitches to retire the White Sox in order in the ninth for his sixth straight scoreless outing.
With one out in the 10th, Hunter left a 3-2 curveball up and Gillaspie took it over the scoreboard in right. Hunter has allowed homers in two of his past three outings after not allowing a home run in his previous 22 appearances.
“Tommy just left a breaking ball out over the plate,” Showalter said. “But Matty had a big hit for us. … I thought we deserved it. It was frustrating, but we finally break through there at the end.”
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