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Orioles blow four-run lead, lose to Mets, 7-6, ending four-game winning streak

What began with the look of another comfortable Orioles victory was anything but, as a pitching staff that had been so effective over their recent winning streak couldn’t hang on in a 7-6 loss to the New York Mets on Wednesday night at Citi Field.

Instead of winning a fifth straight game and pulling to .500 for the first time since Aug. 19, the Orioles watched an early 5-1 lead evaporate and fell behind when rookie reliever Hunter Harvey allowed a go-ahead home run to Pete Alonso to begin the eighth inning.

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“We had a lead," manager Brandon Hyde said. "I felt comfortable with the guys we brought in. I thought we matched up well, and it just didn’t happen tonight. We had scoring opportunities. They played great defense, and hats off to them for winning that game the way they played defensively.”

The Orioles (20-22) wasted little time against right-hander Rick Porcello in the first inning. Cedric Mullins hit a leadoff single and scored on a single by Renato Núñez, and Núñez scored on a single by Ryan Mountcastle.

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Their lead was 2-1 in the third inning when Rio Ruiz hit a two-run double and scored on a single by Hanser Alberto. DJ Stewart’s fifth home run in the past four games made the Orioles' lead 6-3 in the fifth inning.

And for all the opportunities they’d later to have to build on that, it wasn’t enough.

After the Mets used home runs by Michael Conforto and Jeff McNeil to claw back closer, the Orioles looked primed to expand the lead the way they did several times before. They loaded the bases in the sixth inning but had nothing to show for it when Conforto made a sprinting, over-the-shoulder catch on a drive by Ruiz to the warning track in right field to end the inning and keep three runs off the board.

“The defense they played, that was outstanding defensive effort that stopped a lot of rallies and saved a bunch of runs,” Hyde said. “That play Conforto made has to be one of the best plays of the year, especially in that spot, that part of the game. Rio just drove that ball and that was a heck of a play to save three runs. It would have given us a four-run cushion at that point.”

Two batters into the home half of that inning, Andrés Giménez homered off Paul Fry to tie the game. It stayed that way until Alonso’s blast off Harvey in the eighth.

Despite their early production, the Orioles left 13 runners on base, including Hanser Alberto at second base in the ninth inning.

Coupled with a New York Yankees' win over the Toronto Blue Jays, the Orioles travel to the Bronx 1½ games out of one of the wild-card playoff spots.

López laments long balls

New York’s comeback happened largely on the watch of starter Jorge López, who on Friday began a run of strong starts for the Orioles. His opportunity to continue it Wednesday was hurt by home runs.

López got two crucial strikeouts to limit the damage with one run already in and two out in the second inning, and as the Orioles kept building their lead, the Mets kept leaving the ballpark. McNeil hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, and as López seemed to be nearing the end of the line, Conforto homered with two outs in the fifth.

“I had a good plan,” López said, via Director of Latin American Operations Ramón Alarcón, the team’s interpreter. “Unfortunately, I was not able to execute today. Too many mistakes.”

Though he struck out six, the home runs meant López allowed five runs on six hits with a walk, bringing his ERA to 6.38.

Roberto Clemente Day celebrated

López, who was born in Puerto Rico, joined infielder Andrew Velazquez, third base coach José Flores and assistant hitting coach José Hernandez in wearing Roberto Clemente’s No. 21 on Wednesday as Major League Baseball celebrated Roberto Clemente Day.

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All players and coaches of Puerto Rican heritage could wear the jerseys, the first time MLB made that an option. MLB celebrates Clemente’s humanitarian work annually Sept. 18.

“To us, I’m sure for Drew and José the same thing, it means a lot,” Flores said. “Not only as a player what Roberto did on the field, but off the field, his community work, his humanitarian work. He pretty much died helping people that suffered from an earthquake in Nicaragua, Dec 31, 1972. It says a lot — never expecting something in return. That’s something that definitely will stick with us throughout our entire career.”

Stewart, Mountcastle keep getting on

Stewart and Mountcastle each reached in all five of their plate appearances Wednesday, with Mountcastle singling four times and being hit by a pitch and Stewart having three hits, including a home run, with a walk and a hit-by-pitch as well.

After entering Saturday’s game without a hit and with a .385 OPS thanks to his nine walks at the time, Stewart is batting .267 with a 1.255 OPS.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody as hot as he is right now,” Mountcastle said of Stewart. "It’s kind of insane.”

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