By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
2:46 AM EDT, August 16, 2011
The Orioles' second win at The Coliseum since 2008 featured another solid start from one of the rotation's newest members, a shutdown relief appearance from a much-maligned lefty, and two clutch hits from the bottom of the order.
Tommy Hunter survived a shaky second inning to go 6 2/3 strong innings before Michael Gonzalez relieved him and retired all four batters he faced. Robert Andino and Josh Bell then spurred a four-run seventh inning as the Orioles defeated the Oakland Athletics, 6-2, in front of an announced 10,122.
When Kevin Gregg rebounded from a disastrous outing Sunday to get the final three outs, the Orioles (47-72) had their first back-to-back victories since July 16-17 and just their second win here over their past 14 contests.
"Playing at this field, this whole atmosphere is bad," said Andino, who got the big hit in the seventh inning with a go-ahead, two-run double off Fautino De Los Santos. "But whatever, we came out with a 'W.' "
Matt Wieters and Mark Reynolds also hit solo homers for the Orioles, who were held in check by Oakland lefty Gio Gonzalez (9-11) and trailed 2-1 heading into the top of the seventh.
That inning started with back-to-back singles by Adam Jones and Vladimir Guerrero and continued with a walk drawn by Matt Wieters that loaded the bases and ended Gonzalez's night. De Los Santos got a big first out by striking out Mark Reynolds, but Andino drove his first pitch over the head of center fielder Coco Crisp for a two-run double.
After falling behind 0-2, third baseman Josh Bell brought home two insurance runs with a single up the middle.
"Anytime you can help the major league team win, it feels good," said Bell, who also made a pretty diving catch on Cliff Pennington's foul ball in the fourth inning. "I'm just trying to work on seeing the ball, trying to get a good pitch to hit. I knew with runners on third and second, I had to try and get a pitch to hit. I definitely felt good tonight, defensively and offensively."
Their four-run seventh aside, several Orioles felt the decisive inning was in the second, in which Hunter (2-2) allowed the first four Oakland hitters to reach after Wieters had given the team a 1-0 lead with a long solo homer in the top of the inning.
David DeJesus hit an RBI double to tie the score, and Pennington singled to give Oakland the 2-1 lead. The A's still had men on first and second with no outs, but Hunter threw a cut fastball to Kurt Suzuki that turned into a double play, then retired Eric Sogard on a fly ball to left fielder Nolan Reimold.
"They had a lot of people out there, and he made a big double-play pitch that I thought might have been the biggest play there was in the game," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Hunter agreed and chastised himself for not getting the ball down in the zone more in the second inning.
"When the team wins, you have to be happy," Hunter said. "But there are definitely some things that I could have fixed tonight. I gave up a ton of hits, 10, 11 hits? You can definitely do better than that. You have to get the ball down. The second inning was not that."
Hunter settled down and allowed one single in each inning from the third through the sixth before leaving with two men on and two out in the seventh innings. Gonzalez retired the dangerous Hideki Matsui on one pitch.
Hunter, who was acquired from the Texas Rangers before the trade deadline, allowed two runs on a career-high 10 hits and a walk to win his first game as an Oriole and improve to 5-0 against Oakland (53-68).
"[Hunter] was awesome," Michael Gonzalez said. "He saved us out there, and that's one of those things where it may not show tomorrow, but it will show a couple days from now. He did an outstanding job. You can just see that he wants to be out there."
Gonzalez also had one of his best outings of the season and has not allowed a run in 13 of his past 14 appearances. Not only did he retire the potential tying run in the form of Matsui to end the seventh, but he also struck out the side in the eighth, fanning Josh Willingham, DeJesus and Brandon Allen on 12 pitches, all but two of them strikes.
"That's how I remember him from when he was with the Braves," Andino said. "It was fun watching him tonight."
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