The Orioles so badly needed to avoid the sting of another close loss that it wouldn't have mattered who got the game-winning hit. But it was particularly satisfying for them to gather around home plate in the 10th inning Wednesday night, awaiting Nolan Reimold's helmet-tossing arrival.
Reimold, who has struggled since getting the opportunity to play virtually every day, slammed Jason Frasor's first pitch into the visitors' bullpen, the two-run shot ending the Orioles' 6-4 victory over the Chicago White Sox in front of an announced 18,747 at Camden Yards.
"Honestly, the last few days, I have been feeling pretty good," said Reimold, who was 2-for-18 on this homestand and had four hits in his past 37 at-bats heading into the 10th-inning at-bat. "I've been putting some good swings on the ball. Before my last at-bat there, I felt good pretty much every at bat. I hit the ball up in the air, I hit it on the ground. Putting good swings on it, just not able to pull out a hit. So sometimes you've got to hit it over the fence to get a hit."
The game-winning shot, which sailed 436 feet over the Orioles' bullpen, was Reimold's seventh homer of the season and his first since July 26.
"Nolan's a strong guy with a lot of skills," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's got some skills that could play up here if he can grasp some of the small things, and tonight he got a good return for some of the work he's been putting in. I know he was excited. So were we."
The second walk-off homer of his career salvaged a game in which the home team led 4-0 but couldn't hold the lead or reward an effective Tommy Hunter with a victory.
The Orioles (45-69), who broke a three-game losing streak, won for just the third time in 12 games and ended a five-game winning streak for the White Sox (57-59), could salvage a split in the four-game series with a victory Thursday night.
"It was evident how much we needed this game," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who had three hits, including a fifth-inning home run off White Sox starter Philip Humber. "We needed it bad, let me put it that way. So let's come out and do it again tomorrow. Whatever we did today, let's do it tomorrow."
After he reached home plate, Jones engaged in a back-and-forth conversation with Chicago's emotional manager, Ozzie Guillen.
Asked how serious the exchange was, Jones said: "We'll see in a couple of days. I'm protecting myself and protecting my team. He's protecting himself and his team. It's part of the game."
Jones was much more interested in talking about Reimold, his fellow outfielder who has struggled since his impressive rookie season in 2009.
"I feel good for him because the last week and a half, two weeks, he's been getting the majority of at-bats. This is his time to prove himself," Jones said. "Hopefully, that one helps him out."
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis preceded Reimold's homer with a single down the left-field line. He finished 2-for-4 with a walk and two runs, and shortstop J.J. Hardy, moved to the second spot in the batting order in Showalter's attempt to shake things up, went 4-for-5 with a homer. He has 21 homers this season and seven in his past 13 games.
"What's the guy's name, J.J. Ruth?" Guillen said. "J.J. Ruth hit a home run early in the game. This guy is swinging the bat pretty good lately. J.J. Ruth, I go to see his museum tomorrow."
The only negative of the night was that the Orioles were unable to reward Hunter with a victory. In his second start since he was acquired from the Texas Rangers in the July 30 deal involving Koji Uehara, Hunter allowed four earned runs on seven hits while striking out two over 6 2/3 innings. It was his longest outing of the season.
Hunter departed after Brent Morel's RBI double that cut the Orioles' lead to 4-2 and left men on second and third with two outs. Jason Berken relieved him, and his first pitch was lined down the left-field line by Juan Pierre, the two-run single tying the game.
However, Berken retired Paul Konerko with two men on to keep the score tied and end the seventh. After allowing the White Sox to put runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth, Jim Johnson got Alex Rios to line out and struck out Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham to end that inning.
Gonzalez got his second victory on the season when Reimold delivered against Frasor (2-2).
"The name of this game is to win," Hunter said.
"We're all competitors. We want to win every time we go out. There's been some one-run ballgames we've been on the wrong end of, and tonight Nolan steps up and hits an absolute bomb. That ball was crushed a little bit."
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