In their rubber match against the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday afternoon, the Orioles committed two errors, left seven runners on base, walked two batters with the bases loaded and nearly coughed up a five-run lead.
And they still won, 7-5, before a boisterous announced crowd of 27,809 at Camden Yards.
That, in the holy name of Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver, is what the home run can do.
"Guys in here kept saying the ball flies when it gets hot. I'm definitely seeing it now," said first baseman Derrek Lee, whose Weaver-pleasing, three-run homer in the fourth gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead. "It's fun to hit when, if you get it in the air, you know it has a chance."
The Orioles homered three times Sunday -- Mark Reynolds hit his team-leading 14th in a four-run fourth, and Luke Scott added his ninth in the seventh inning -- and finished with nine in the three-game series against the Reds. The Orioles hit just seven total homers in their most recent nine-game road trip.
The win gave the Orioles (35-40) their first series victory in their past five tries. The Reds (40-39) haven't won a series since sweeping the Los Angeles Dodgers from June 13 to 15.
Maybe the Orioles have rediscovered their power stroke -- or maybe it's just that the warm summer weather has officially arrived in Baltimore.
"I was a little surprised Saturday night, some of the balls that were hit. In April and May, those were caught either at the track or before it," said Reynolds, whose homer Sunday landed near the visiting bullpen and was estimated at 443 feet. "It's really starting to carry here lately, so hopefully we can keep this nice weather going and keep hitting some balls in the air."
Twelve of the Orioles' 17 runs this series came courtesy of the long ball, including five of seven Sunday.
Two of the shots were hit against aptly named Cincinnati right-hander Homer Bailey (3-2), who was activated from the disabled list Sunday morning after missing a month with a right shoulder injury. Scott's homer came against reliever Aroldis Chapman, who had faced five batters this series and had struck out all of them.
Bailey retired his first seven batters, but lost a shutout bid in the third, then fell victim to the suddenly powerful Orioles lineup in the fourth. He lasted five innings, yielding five runs on nine hits and two walks.
The Orioles scored single runs in the third and sixth, both on RBI singles by Nick Markakis that plated rookie Blake Davis, who reached base three times.
Markakis had three hits and extended his hitting streak to a team-high 16 games. In that span, he is batting .405, bringing his season average up to .277 after being mired in one of the worst funks of his career.
"I'm getting there," Markakis said when asked whether he felt like he was returning to form. "I'm just going to take it day by day and just try to continue what I am doing. Get on base and try to get big hits when you need them."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Markakis' surge has been aided by a better approach at the plate and improving hitters around him.
"He's letting the ball travel, getting deep. He's making them get him out. He's not getting himself out as much, and he's taking what they give him," Showalter said. "Nick's not going to sneak up on anybody. Everybody in baseball knows what kind of hitter he is, and they're pitching him tough."
The Orioles' offensive barrage was enough for starter Jeremy Guthrie (3-9) to pick up his first win since May 21 against the Washington Nationals -- a span of six starts without a victory. It was just the fifth time in his 17 outings that he received five or more runs of support and the first since May 26.
"They're swinging really well. You look one through nine and you've got six, seven guys that I feel are real hot right now, that are swinging it well," said Guthrie, who was charged with four runs on four walks and six hits in 5 2/3 innings. "I think that's what we had intended going into this season, and what we've seen the past couple of weeks. ? We hope that that goes on throughout the rest of the year."
Guthrie threw four scoreless innings before allowing a solo homer to Brandon Phillips in the fifth, the 13th he has served up this season. He was chased with two outs in the sixth when he walked Phillips on his 111th pitch of the game.
"That's a frustrating way to end the outing," said Guthrie, who was expertly locating his mid-90s fastball early on. "But, overall, I felt I was able to throw my pitches where I was trying to for the most part."
Guthrie's pitch count was up, in part, because Orioles third baseman Mark Reynolds twice committed throwing errors. He has 18 errors in 74 games this season, which leads the majors. He had 18 errors in 142 games in 2010.
"I've struggled over there at third base a little bit, it's no secret," Reynolds said. "I'm working every day with Willie [Randolph] at trying to get better, but right now it's just one of those things I can't really explain. Hopefully, I can be a little bit more consistent in the future and just keep getting better."
Guthrie left the mound with the Orioles up 5-2, but left-hander Clay Rapada walked the only batter he faced, Joey Votto, to load the bases and Jim Johnson issued RBI free passes to Jonny Gomes and Fred Lewis.
The last pitch to Lewis looked like a strike but was called a ball by plate umpire Alan Porter, whose strike zone was questioned by both sides throughout the afternoon. Nine of Johnson's first 11 pitches were ruled balls, but he induced a groundout to escape the inning.
Johnson and Koji Uehara then combined for two scoreless innings, and Kevin Gregg notched his 14th save of the season after allowing a solo homer to Ramon Hernandez on his first pitch in the ninth.
It was the fifth homer Sunday and 14th in the past two games between the Orioles and Reds.
"I'm not saying they're ballpark-aided or weather-aided. [Former hitting coach Terry Crowley] was so right last year about how this ballpark plays different times of the year, but most of those balls would have been out in most places," Showalter said. "We squared up a lot of them. It's good to see. Over the course of a season, you seem to always seek and find your level. I think we're starting to see some of that, I hope."
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