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Betemit homer caps O's ninth inning rally

BALTIMORE - Wilson Betemit flicked his helmet aside and let his teammates surround him as he reached the plate.

Only minutes earlier, the Baltimore Orioles trailed by two, having been dominated by 38-year-old righty Bartolo Colon, and were on their way to a series defeat.

But then the Oakland Athletics opened the door with two defensive missteps, and the Orioles happily stepped through.

Matt Wieters tied Sunday's contest with a two-run double and Betemit ended it with a three-run homer just over the right-field fence. Baltimore rallied for five runs with one out in the ninth to top Oakland 5-2 before 31,793 at Camden Yards.

Betemit's third homer of the year was his first career walk-off winner.

"The first couple of innings, nothing happened, and then we won the game," Betemit said.

After absorbing a mild beatdown from his fellow Orioles, the third baseman had a hug and a handshake waiting from manager Buck Showalter.

Two outs from suffering its second loss in three games, Baltimore (14-8) flipped that around for six victories in seven contests as the team leaves town for visits to the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox.

"We had a good crowd and a beautiful day like this, you really want them to enjoy the day and come back and be part of that again," said Showalter, who now has 999 career wins. "You want them to say, 'This is fun. It was a great day for the Orioles and I want to be back.' That's part of the trust we've got to regain."

Colon held the Orioles in check through eight innings, limiting them to no runs on five hits.

But then Baltimore mounted a threat with a pair of infield hits and an error to start the ninth.

J.J. Hardy reached on a single beyond second, and the throw to first skipped past the bag. Colon struck out Nick Markakis and then forced Adam Jones to bounce a slow grounder to the left of the mound.

Colon fielded it and bounced it away from Daric Barton at first, letting Jones and Hardy move up to second and third.

That ended Colon's day and brought on closer Grant Balfour. Wieters, who had been 1-for-14 (.071) with runners in scoring position, drove a 1-2 pitch off the left-field wall for a two-run double that knotted it at 2-2.

"I was able to put a good swing on it. I felt like I had some good swings all day, but finally found the barrel," Wieters said.

Balfour (0-1), who blew his second save in three appearances, then intentionally walked Chris Davis and took the loss on Betemit's blast.

"We got a team where everybody pulls together," Betemit said. "Everybody knows how to play, and knows how to win, and that's what we do."

Pedro Strop tossed a scoreless ninth to improve to 3-1, tying him for the team's wins lead. Before that, starter Tommy Hunter dueled with Colon, allowing two runs on seven hits in seven innings and Darren O'Day pitched a perfect eighth.

Hunter has now permitted three runs in 13 innings over his last two starts after being pounded for 12 in his previous 11 2-3.

Hunter had been critical of himself after his previous start, when he beat Toronto with one earned run in six innings. That wasn't as much the case Sunday.

"At least I was down in the zone," Hunter said. "It's still a work in progress. There were a lot of great plays tonight. ... It was a team win. We pitched all right and played unbelievable defense and hit the ball towards the end of the game."

As Hunter said, the Orioles benefited from sharp fielding, including a double play initiated by Mark Reynolds at first where he dove to snag a grounder down the line, and a homer-robbing reach over the fence by left fielder Nolan Reimold.

With that, the Orioles improved to 5-6 when trailing after seven innings and moved six games over .500 for the first time since July 20, 2005.

"It beats the alternative," Showalter said. "I just like seeing a lot of our guys getting a return for what they've been putting into it from a team standpoint. This group has a good relationship with each other.

"We're going to need contributions from everybody to have the type of year we want to have."

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