Carroll County Times

Orioles: Late offense boosts Birds again

BALTIMORE - Detroit's starting pitchers flourished in the Tigers' three-game series against Baltimore, with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Rick Porcello having plenty of success against the Orioles' bats.

Yet the home team found a way to take two of three from the Tigers, and the Birds clinched the series with Sunday's 4-2 win in front of 39,182 at Camden Yards.

Verlander led Detroit to a convincing win Saturday afternoon, but Baltimore sandwiched a pair of come-from-behind victories around it, getting past Scherzer on Friday and Porcello thanks to a three-run seventh inning Sunday.

The Orioles (32-25) chased Porcello with three straight hits to start the inning, leading off with Chris Davis' 20th home run of the season. Chris Dickerson and J.J. Hardy followed with singles, and Porcello was finished after six innings and seven strikeouts holding a 2-1 lead.

"He was kind of running out of gas, and that's obviously a good chance for us to get into the bullpen," said Davis, who homered on the first pitch he saw in the seventh and finished 2 for 4 with a double. "He had pretty much been dominating us the whole game. I just thought I'd be a little more aggressive in that at-bat. ... We started rolling after that."

Phil Coke came out of Detroit's bullpen and Orioles manager Buck Showalter went to Danny Valencia, who came off the bench to pinch hit for Ryan Flaherty. The move paid off - Valencia slapped a single to right-center and tied the score at 2-2 with his second career pinch hit.

It was a rare one, too. Baltimore pinch-hitters were a combined 1 for 18 this year before Valencia's single.

Nate McLouth's single to center two batters later gave the Orioles the lead, and Baltimore's bullpen did the rest.

Brian Matusz, Darren O'Day, and Jim Johnson combined for three innings of work, with Matusz (2-0) earning the win and Johnson his 18th save.

The Orioles got an insurance run in the eighth on Alexi Casilla's RBI double to left. And the late offense helped Kevin Gausman avoid his third consecutive defeat.

The rookie right-hander's home debut went a lot smoother than his previous two starts, with Gausman going six innings and fanning four. His pitch count stood at 42 after two innings, but the 22-year-old kept Detroit's lineup in check other than a Prince Fielder solo homer in the fourth.

Gausman also tamed Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera, who hit into a pair of double plays and struck out looking to end the sixth on Gausman's final pitch of the day.

"He's the best hitter in the game. I just tried to make my pitches and keep everything down," Gausman said. "If you don't have a good inning against him, he can make you pay for it. He's a great contact hitter too, so for him to watch that pitch, I was kind of surprised. He kept fouling off pitches. It was a good battle. It was fun."

Gausman appeared in line for the loss when Jhonny Peralta dropped an RBI single into shallow right field off Matusz in the sixth to make it 2-0.

Matusz relieved Gausman and allowed three straight hits to start the inning, but got a 2-5-3 double play and a fly out to limit the damage.

The Tigers lost for the eighth time this season when leading after six innings and fell to 30-25 with their fifth loss in six games.

Meanwhile, the Orioles have won nine of 13 and are 12-5-2 in series this season, which now includes a win over the reigning AL champion Tigers.

"They are some team," Showalter said. "This team played in the World Series last year. They may have as good a [starting] rotation as anybody in baseball. ... This was one of those days where we really needed to hold them to as few runs as we could. Sometimes, your body doesn't cooperate with the other part and that's one of the challenges of this game.

"That's why I'm real proud of them, especially the pitchers."