Orioles: Bad week avoided with resurgence

BALTIMORE - When the Baltimore Orioles entered the 10th inning in Tuesday's game against the New York Yankees, there was potential that the Orioles were going to end up in their worst stretch in over a year.

Baltimore was on a six-game losing streak. Closer Jim Johnson, who had just entered the game, had blown three consecutive saves. And the Orioles hadn't been winning close games.

But then, Johnson had a 1-2-3 inning, Nate McLouth hit a walk-off homer, and everything was back to normal.

Baltimore went from May 12 to May 20 without winning a game.

"It sounds like a long time," Johnson said.

"I didn't think it was that long. We had all those off days, so ... obviously, it's good to get a win. Any time you get a win, you're happy."

But that win ended a run that was uncharacteristic for the Orioles since the beginning of the 2012 season.

Last season, Baltimore only lost six games in a row once.

It was also the first time the Orioles had dropped seven straight home games since Aug. 22-Sept. 7, 2007, and the first time they opened a homestand with six straight losses since April 2010.

But unlike the Orioles of the pre-Buck Showalter era, they were able to snap it before it got out of hand and dropped them below .500.

"It's our job to come out that night and play that game and not let the previous day - or two or three or six - affect what we do," McLouth said. "This is a very good team at doing that and the way the baseball season is constructed its important to have that quality."

Not only did Baltimore end its losing streak, it did so in exciting fashion, much like the Orioles of last season.

It was also Baltimore's first regular-season extra-inning win over the Yankees since the beginning of 2012. The Orioles had been 0-3 before that.

Baltimore then turned things back around as the Orioles blasted three homers in a win over the Yankees on Wednesday.

"You always want to end the downturn as soon as you can," Johnson said. "So hopefully this is a start to get us in the right direction."

While Baltimore lost on Thursday in rookie Kevin Gausman's debut, the Orioles kept their hot hitting by winning Friday and Saturday with a combined six home runs.

Had the Orioles not been able to pull out those two wins against the Yankees, they would have entered Friday just one game over .500. Last season, Baltmore at no point had more losses than wins. Although that has already happened this season, it was early enough that the Orioles were able to comfortably get back above .500.

It will be interesting to see how Johnson handles high-pressure situations moving forward. On Thursday, relievers Troy Patton and Pedro Strop gave up four runs en route to a 12-6 loss.

While the bullpen has not been quite as effective as last season, Johnson had been the one consistent factor early in the season, beginning the year 14 for 14 with save conversions.

McLouth said it's easy to forget how hard of a job it is being a closer, and, although not a save situation, it was good to get him back on the mound quickly.

"He's as solid as they come," McLouth said.

But even when Johnson struggles, he continues to get opportunities. While that decision might not please some fans, he led the majors last year with a franchise record 54 saves.

Johnson closed down his first save since May 10 on Saturday in Toronto, pitching a 1-2-3 ninth.

"He's been there a million times," McLouth said. "He's not going to be afraid and he's going to go after guys. That's the way he pitches."

Outfielder Chris Dickerson, who jolted a pair of homers on Tuesday, said when the team starts losing, nobody gets down.

"Really, it hasn't been that bad," Dickerson said. "This team never gets down, never gets crushed, never feels the weight of the pressure."

Showalter said that mindset is why his team continues to be successful.

"Losses with our guys, they take them the way they should be taken," Showalter said. "That's the separator. That's why they were so good last year and have been so good this year."