They dug themselves out from an early four-run hole to tie the game in the fifth. They then erased a two-run deficit by scoring runs in the eighth and ninth inning, the latter one coming against Angels All-Star closer Brian Fuentes.
And just as it seemed that the Orioles had run out of chances, they escaped bases-loaded, one-out jams in the 11th and 12th innings by completing double plays. All of it could have been a prelude to one of the most uplifting victories of the season. Instead, it added to the agony of the Orioles' 17-8 loss in 13 innings before an announced 26,529 on a scorching Sunday at Camden Yards.
"The 13th inning wasn't real lucky for us," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said in one of the understatements of the season.
In the longest game of the season for both teams, the Angels broke an 8-8 tie by scoring nine times in the 13th inning, one more run than they managed in the previous 12 innings. Orioles relievers Brian Bass and Matt Albers faced 12 batters in the inning, and eight of them got hits and another walked. Juan Rivera hit a three-run homer, but even before his swing, the Orioles trailed 14-8.
The last team to score that many runs in an extra inning was the San Diego Padres, who scored nine against the Philadelphia Phillies in the 10th on May 28, 1995.
"You got to look at it like, they are the best hitting team in baseball," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who tied the game with a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. "Bases loaded twice in back-to-back innings and you get out of that. You got to win that because you can't give them a third opportunity like we did. You saw it. It wasn't a pretty show."
Bass, who got out of the bases-loaded jam in the 12th by inducing Maicer Izturis to hit into an inning-ending double play started by first baseman Aubrey Huff, allowed singles to the first four batters he faced in the 13th before giving way to the struggling Albers. Torii Hunter, activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, broke the tie with a hard bouncer over Bass' head into center field.
It was Hunter who had lined into a double play in the 11th inning that helped Jim Johnson escape a jam and keep the game tied.
"I had a good sinker today. Unfortunately, that second inning, I fell behind, gave up a bunch of singles," said Bass, who allowed six hits and hit a batter in one-plus inning. "For the team to battle for 12 innings and go out there and give it up, it's disappointing."
Albers didn't fare well either, surrendering five earned runs on four hits and a walk in one inning. Overall, the Angels had 23 hits and went 12-for-24 with runners in scoring position.
Albers has surrendered 17 earned runs in his past six innings and it wouldn't be surprising if he's sent to the minors today to make room for another reliever, maybe Kam Mickolio.
With the loss, the Orioles (48-69) fell to a season-worst 21 games under . 500. The Orioles, who still haven't won a series since the All-Star break, will have to win tonight to gain a four-game split with the Angels (70-45).
The Orioles are 8-21 since the break, but they didn't make life easy for the Angels, who built leads of 4-0, 6-2 and 8-6, only to watch the Orioles come back each time.
"I told the guys they played their [butts] off," Trembley said. "I don't know what more they could have done to try to win the game."
Down early after Jeremy Guthrie gave up three runs in the first, the Orioles cut the deficit to 4-2 on Brian Roberts' two-run homer in the third. Guthrie gave two runs right back, but the Orioles finally tied the game at six in the fifth inning on Nick Markakis' two-run homer.
The Angels took the lead in the sixth on Chone Figgins' RBI single off Guthrie, and tacked on another run in the seventh. Rookie catcher Matt Wieters' RBI pinch-hit single in the eighth pulled the Orioles within a run.
Roberts led off the ninth with a double against Fuentes and then stole third without a throw. That's where he was when Jones sent a towering fly ball to left field. Rivera caught the ball in front of the wall and the Orioles had to settle for a sacrifice fly and a tie game.
"It would have been a nice ending," Trembley said.
It certainly beat the punch in the gut that followed in the 13th inning.