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Matt Wieters homers in 11th as Orioles walk off with win over Braves

Monday night at Camden Yards started as a homecoming for one of the most popular Orioles in the past decade and ended with another kind of celebration -- a game-ending homer by catcher Matt Wieters to give the Orioles a 2-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in 11 innings.

A large chunk of the announced 26,256 might have come out to see the return of former Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis, but it left after watching Wieters collect his fourth career walk-off home run, a solo shot to right-center field against lefty reliever Luis Avilan (2-4).

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"It won't ever get old. It's a great feeling," said Wieters, whose last walk-off homer was May 1, 2014 versus Pittsburgh. "You get to put a good swing on a ball at a time that you need it. It's a good feeling and you'll never get tired of hitting them."

It was the Orioles' fourth walk-off win this season and third via the home run. David Lough and Jonathan Schoop also have a game-ending homer this year.

The Orioles (49-49) hadn't played a home game since July 12, the final afternoon of the season's first half, and they had to work overtime in this one. They are now 2-2 in extra innings -- and have allowed just four runs in their past three games, all victories.

"To win the last three games, it's been a challenge for us, so I think [good pitching] is coming at a good time," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "You always hope you get both [offense and pitching] of them going. We caught the ball and pitched well and that's why we stayed in the game."

In the ninth, it was another former Oriole that was given the task of preserving a win for Atlanta, and former closer Jim Johnson couldn't hold onto a one-run lead, pushing the night into extra innings.

The Braves took a 1-0 lead in the top of the ninth, when Orioles All-Star closer Zach Britton entered in a non-save situation. Britton served up a solo homer to the second batter he faced, 30-year-old Cuban rookie Adonis Garcia. It was just the second home run allowed by Britton and just the second hit by Garcia, who was playing in his fifth big league game.

The Braves' lead was shortlived.

Adam Jones started the ninth with a slow roller for an infield single and then raced to third when Wieters singled to center. J.J. Hardy followed with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game before Johnson escaped the jam.

Johnson, who set the Orioles' club record for saves in a season in 2012, hadn't blown a save in four attempts since taking over as the Braves' closer in mid-July when Jason Grilli was lost for the year due to injury.

The Orioles had several chances late, specifically in the 10th when Nolan Reimold hit a one-out double. The Braves chose to intentionally walk Chris Davis with first base open to face Manny Machado. It was the second time in three innings the Braves chose that option and both times Machado struck out. Jones then hit a fly out to right to end the inning -- one pitch after fouling a ball off his forehead.

There was a certain buzz in the stadium before a pitch was thrown. Markakis, who spent nine seasons as an Oriole before signing as a free agent with the Braves in December, led off the game.

As he stepped to the plate, the crowd rose and gave Markakis a standing ovation.

Orioles starter Kevin Gausman walked to the back of the mound to allow Markakis time to soak in the applause and the 31-year-old Monkton resident eventually took off his Braves helmet and held it out toward the Orioles dugout and crowd in a show of appreciation.

"It was good," Markakis said. "These fans have been great to me my whole career and tonight just shows what type of fans they are and how loyal they are. It was pretty cool."

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Markakis then did what he did for years as an Oriole: He worked a full count before doubling down the left field line. He was stranded at second when Gausman retired the next three batters in the first.

The 24-year-old Gausman, in his fifth big league start this season, allowed a runner in each of his first five innings, but none scored. In the sixth he posted his first clean inning, part of a streak in which he retired nine straight batters before allowing a two-out single to Markakis.

When Cameron Maybin followed with a single to make it runners on the corners, Showalter lifted Gausman for lefty Brian Matusz. Brought in to face lefty slugger Freddie Freeman, Matusz did his job expertly -- fanning Freeman on four pitches to keep the game scoreless.

Gausman allowed six hits and one walk while striking out five in 7 2/3 innings, a big-league career high for Gausman. His previous longest outing was 7 1/3 against the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 1, 2014. His ERA dipped from 5.18 to 4.20 after Monday.

"I felt pretty comfortable out there," Gausman said. "You get through the fifth scoreless, I think that's when your confidence starts to get up. Me and [Wieters], we were on the same page the whole game."

The Braves (46-53) matched Gausman with their own impressive 24-year-old, lefty Alex Wood, who has had an uneven season in 2015. The former second-rounder who entered the game with a 3.78 ERA and had allowed 10 runs in his past two starts, also carried a shutout deep into the game.

The Orioles didn't get two runners on base in an inning through seven against Wood, who allowed just two hits, a single to Reimold to lead off the first and an infield single by Hardy in the second.

Reimold, making his first start batting leadoff since May 2013, had two hits and a walk and has reached base safely in seven of his past nine plate appearances.

Brad Brach (4-2) picked up the victory with a scoreless inning, giving the Orioles a 28-18 record at home this year.

"We love playing here, we love playing at Camden and you get to see Nick come back and be able to get the ovation from the crowd," Wieters said. "It makes us all feel good in here and it also gets us a little bit motivated to play a good game tonight."

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