Adley Rutschman pumped his fist and a crowd of soggy but satisfied Orioles fans leaped to their feet in the eighth inning Tuesday night.
Ramón Urías had blasted a two-run, no-doubt home run into left-center field, and though it was just the Orioles’ fourth hit of the game, it gave them a 4-3 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays in a game they’d trailed throughout.
Trey Mancini then drove home Jorge Mateo with a deep sacrifice fly, and All-Star closer Jorge López registered his 19th save to secure a 5-3 victory that lifted the Orioles (49-48) above .500.
The game was never delayed, but it rained lightly Tuesday night at Camden Yards on an announced crowd of 11,307, which saw the Orioles sneak past the Boston Red Sox and into fourth place in the American League East.
For much of the evening, though, the Orioles were vexed by AL ERA leader (1.71 entering Tuesday) and Cy Young favorite Shane McClanahan. The Baltimore-born ace spun an impressive performance, allowing just two hits — both solo home runs — while striking out seven in seven innings.
Cedric Mullins hit McClanahan’s first pitch out of the park, but the All-Star left-hander settled down until Anthony Santander added a solo shot of his own with two outs in the fourth. McClanahan sat down the next 10 Orioles hitters and faced only 23 through seven innings, two more than the minimum.
“He started an All-Star Game for a reason,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “He’s got a great arm. He’s one of the best pitchers in the American League.”
Once he exited after just 81 pitches, though, the Orioles scored three runs against reliever Colin Poche in the eighth.
That inning began with a sharp single from Rutschman and was followed by the 424-foot homer from Urías, who tattooed an 0-2 fastball.
As he’s wont to do, Mateo then sped around the bases to manufacture an insurance run. The swift shortstop hit a double down the left field line, promptly stole third and scored on Mancini’s sacrifice fly.
Orioles starter Spenser Watkins allowed a career-high 10 hits through 5 1/3 inning, but the Rays managed only three runs against him and then none against the Baltimore bullpen, led by 2 1/3 scoreless innings from Joey Krehbiel.
“Joey Krehbiel going 2 1/3 giving up one hit won us the game,” Hyde said.
The Rays led for the bulk of the game and outhit the Orioles 12 to five, but Baltimore’s hits were more timely and more damaging, as more than half left the park.
In the Orioles clubhouse after the game, a strobe light produced a disco pattern as the team — projected by many to be among the worst in the majors this season — enjoyed another victory.
“I don’t think there was a single time tonight where I thought we didn’t have a chance to win the game,” Watkins said, “and I think everybody throughout the clubhouse thinks that, as well. As long as there’s an out available on the board, we have a chance.”
Turning the tides against Tampa and the AL East
The Orioles went just 1-18 against the Rays last season, but have gone 7-7 against them this year, including 6-2 at home.
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Entering this year, the Orioles had not won a series against Tampa since August 2020, but have done so twice this season and can notch another with a victory either Wednesday or Thursday.
Shortly after the Orioles won, the Boston Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Guardians and fell to 49-49, a half game behind Baltimore in the AL East standings. It marked the first time that Baltimore, now in fourth place, is not last in the division after the All-Star break since 2017.
Orioles infield prospect Jordan Westburg, the organization’s No. 4 prospect according to Baseball America, was hit in the foot during Triple-A Norfolk’s game in Memphis on Tuesday. He was removed to undergo further testing, the Orioles said.
Wednesday, 7:05 p.m.
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