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With four hits Wednesday, Nick Markakis once again played unsung hero

By Alejandro Zuniga

The Baltimore Sun

9:00 AM EDT, June 26, 2014

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While the offense struggled for most of the Orioles' 5-4 win in 12 innings over the Chicago White Sox on Wednesday, Nick Markakis had no difficulty getting on base all night.

The right fielder matched a season-high with four hits and scored a run as the Orioles completed their second walk-off victory of the series on a wild pitch in the 12th inning.

The winning play was set up by Markakis’ line drive single to the gap in right-center field, which nearly scored pinch-runner David Lough. Instead, Lough tripped and fell around third base, but he came home on the next pitch, which ricocheted off the catcher to the backstop.

Markakis also delivered in the eighth inning with a single that continued a crucial rally with the Orioles down, 4-0. Four batters later, designated hitter Nelson Cruz muscled a grand slam that barely cleared the right-field wall and eventually forced extra innings.

“It seems like [Markakis] gets the hit that sets up things all the time,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He’s always in the middle of things.”

Showalter also mentioned first baseman Chris Davis’ nine-pitch walk in the eighth, which brought Cruz to the plate with the bases loaded.

“I thought one of the key at-bats in the whole inning was Chris' [walk],” Showalter said. “That’ll go unnoticed. That was a key at-bat to get the bat to Nelson. A lot of stuff happened after that, too.”

That included the scoreless performances of six relievers, but also Markakis, who grounded a leadoff single in the 10th to give Cruz the chance to end the game with another clutch hit.

But Cruz popped out, and the Orioles didn’t threaten again until Markakis advanced Lough to third with nobody out two innings later.

That time, the Orioles capitalized on the White Sox’s miscue, and Lough sprinted home to seal the series win.

alzuniga@baltsun.com

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