A third straight quality start from the Orioles’ embattled rotation led to a third straight win, with right-hander Kevin Gausman keeping the Texas Rangers at bay and the bats exploding late in a 10-2 victory Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
Even if it's only this week, it's a trend of strong starting pitching that manager Buck Showalter said would be welcome.
"It’s a roll we’d like to get on," he said. "Start kind of passing the baton to the next guy."
Gausman rebounded from a three-inning, eight-run outing Friday night with six sterling innings, striking out eight and allowing only a solo home run to slugger Joey Gallo in the fifth inning but no other major damage.
Most of Gausman’s outs that weren’t on whiffs — he had 16 swinging strikes — came on ground balls. He had eight groundouts, with just two coming in the air, while two of the four hits he allowed were infield singles.
"My defense played great behind me," Gausman said. "Caleb [Joseph] called a great game. [Chris Davis] made some great plays. Joey [Rickard], those are some tough, kind of soft fly balls that he got to. And obviously, our offense kind of exploded too. So, when guys are swinging the bats like we are right now, you try to just be the guy not to mess it up.
Gausman left having lowered his ERA to 6.11 ERA. The Orioles hadn't had three straight quality starts since mid-May, but the trio of six-inning, one-run starts in succession stand in stark contrast to the 21 runs allowed in 11 1/3 innings by the starters in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Chicago Cubs.
"I think we all know that we need to pitch better and, you know, we’re trying to do that," Gausman said.
Even so, the rotation has a 7.36 ERA since the All-Star break in six games.
The Orioles improved to 45-49 with the victory, level with the visiting Rangers in the middle of a glut of American League wild-card chasers.
Pounce on Perez: Left-hander Martin Perez got deeper in the game than Gausman, but a couple of bad sequences left him on the hook for the loss.
Center fielder Adam Jones led off the home half of the first inning with a home run to put the Orioles ahead, then scored their second run after sparking a two-out rally in the third.
After Jones singled, third baseman Manny Machado worked a walk, and both scored on double off the right-field wall by second baseman Jonathan Schoop.
Big seventh: Once Perez reached the seventh inning, though, the Orioles got to him.
An infield single by left fielder Trey Mancini and a screamer up the middle by catcher Joseph, who had two hits, chased Perez. Then reliever Matt Bush walked right fielder Rickard to load the bases and saw the Orioles score four runs when shortstop Rubén Tejada reached on an error and Jones, Machado and Schoop singled. Schoop ended the day with three hits and three RBIs.
After strikeouts by Mark Trumbo and Davis, Mancini tripled to clear the bases and make it 10-1 after seven innings.
The other way: Jones hit his first home run since moving to the leadoff spot to open the first inning Wednesday, and did so in a manner he hasn’t in a long time.
Jones hadn’t homered to right field since June 28, 2016, when he led off a game against the San Diego Padres at Petco Field with a home run. Since then, he’d hit 28 home runs, all either to right-center or left of it.
Jones also singled the other way in the third and seventh innings. He drove in two runs.
Britton’s (almost) back: Showalter said before the game that Zach Britton would be in line for a save if an opportunity arose Wednesday, and he set up his bullpen for that after Gausman’s exit.
Mychal Givens’ scoreless seventh pulled his ERA down to 2.05, and Brad Brach was ready for the eighth inning before the Orioles exploded for seven runs and took the game out of reach.
Instead, left-hander Donnie Hart took over with a scoreless eighth before allowing a run on three hits in the ninth.