The Orioles are suddenly winning again, beginning to climb out of the hole they dug for themselves last month, but Buck Showalter doesn't want any mention of his team sneaking up on the American League wild-card race.
Asked about his team's recent surge following the Orioles' 13-inning 6-5 walk-off victory over the Boston Red Sox, Showalter put his index finger over his lips, as if to shush the notion that other teams in the race should consider the Orioles a factor.
"I like the part where you get noticed at the end and you're playing in the playoffs," Showalter said. "But you get a little crispness back in the air, and it reminds everybody what fall baseball is like. We still feel like it's there for us if we can get the momentum needed. It starts with good pitching, which we had tonight with the exception of that one inning."
The Orioles needed 13 innings to do it – tied for their longest game of the season – but they showed their resiliency with another much-needed win over the Red Sox in front of 21,260 on a cool night at Camden Yards in a game that ended just 33 minutes before midnight.
Chris Davis ended the four-hour, 20-minute marathon, lining a 2-1 pitch from left-hander Robbie Ross, Jr. into center field past a drawn-in Boston infield, pumping his right fist into the air as the ran to first and Gerardo Parra scored the game-winning run behind him from third base.
It was the Orioles' ninth walk-off win of the season, with Davis providing the game-winning hit for the third time. Davis previously hit solo walk-off homers on Aug. 15 against the A's and Sept. 2 versus the Rays, both of those wins also coming at Camden Yards. His three walk-off hits are the most in the majors since Aug. 15.
The Orioles (71-73) won their third straight game overall and have now won six of their last seven. Tuesday's win also gave the Orioles three straight series wins for the first time in nearly three months, when the Orioles won series over the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Indians from June 19 to June 28.
The Orioles also gained a half-game in the American League wild-card race. They now trail the Houston Astros by 5 ½ games with 18 regular seasons games to go.
"After the long slide that we had where we just couldn't put anything together or do anything right, a couple of the wins that we've had lately against the teams that we've been playing have kind of rejuvenated the team," Davis said. "Obviously at this time of the year, you know what's at stake. You know that you have to be almost perfect. That in itself kind of gives us a jolt and we've been playing well."
After struggling to muster any offense for nearly eight innings, Parra drew a five-pitch walk from Jonathan Aro (0-1) to open the 13th. Parra went from first to third on Manny Machado's single to right-center, setting the stage for Davis' walk-off hit.
Showalter said Parra going from first to third on Machado's hit was the play of the night.
"That's a baseball-player play and that's something you can't equivocate with analytics or anything," Showalter said. "That's just a baseball player making a play, knowing they're playing deep with no doubles."
After Davis rounded the first-base bag, he was chased by his teammates, who were looking to douse him with water and Gatorade, but Davis sped away, waving to his teammates as he trotted into the Orioles dugout.
Six different Orioles relievers accounted for eight innings of one-run ball, including right-hander Chaz Roe (3-2), who pitched a scoreless 13th inning to earn the win. Set-up man Darren O'Day (1 2/3 innings) and closer Zach Britton (one inning) each recorded scoreless outings pitching for the third consecutive day. Brad Brach tossed two scoreless innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced in the 11th and 12th innings.
"It's that time," Showalter said. "You do things all through the year so when you get to September you can push the envelope a little bit. … I was trying to get through without having to use Darren and Zach. That's why I didn't pitch Zach in the ninth. I was trying to keep one of them available for tomorrow. But we used all our bullets needed for a W for the Orioles. We'll see what tomorrow brings."
Roe allowed a leadoff single to Deven Marrero in the top of the 13th on a ball that deflected off his glove. But after Roe induced a fly out from Rusney Castillo, shortstop J.J. Hardy made a heady play to start a 6-4-3 double play. Instead of charging Ryan Hanigan's sharply-hit ball and attempt to catch it on the fly, he took a short-hop and was able to end the inning on one play.
"I thought the double play that J.J. turned was huge," Davis said. "I think a lot of times that's a ball that can be caught in the air, but he's so smart and he's been around long enough to know he can catch it off the bounce and get two."
Heading into the 13th, the Orioles had just two baserunners –- including one hit -– over a 7 2/3-inning span following Machado's solo home run in the fifth inning. Jonathan Schoop's ninth-inning infield single was the Orioles' only hit over that span.
Red Sox right-hander Joe Kelly, who entered the night having won his last eight starts -– the most in the AL this season -- and owned a 2.59 ERA in that span, was forced from the game in the middle of the Orioles four-run third inning with right shoulder tightness and fatigue.
Steve Pearce gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead two batters into the third, taking a 2-2 hanging curveball into the left-field seats, scoring him and Hardy, who opened the inning with a single. Pearce's homer was the first Kelly had allowed in four starts dating back to Aug. 24.
With Machado on first and one out, Davis singled to center, but Mookie Betts' errant throw to second skipped away, allowing Machado to score from third and give Davis second base. Davis scored two batters later on Matt Wieters' sacrifice fly after an Adam Jones single moved Davis to third, giving the Orioles a 4-1 lead.
Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez couldn't hold that lead against the top of the Red Sox lineup, yielding three runs in the top of the fifth. Betts' leadoff single was followed by a ground-rule double by Dustin Pedroia. Xander Bogaerts plated Betts with a single, and David Ortiz's sacrifice fly to center scored Pedroia.
Pablo Sandoval tied the game with an opposite-field hit off the left-field wall, scoring Bogaerts from second. Sandoval was called safe at second following a head-first slide, but the call was overturned after the Orioles challenged it. Replays showed that Sandoval's left hand came off the bag as second baseman Schoop applied the tag.
Machado gave the Orioles the lead in the bottom of the fifth, taking an 0-1 pitch from left-hander Craig Breslow over the right-center field fence. Eleven of Machado's career-high 29 homers this season have given the Orioles the lead.
Jimenez, who entered the night with an unsightly 8.06 ERA against Boston in nine career starts against the Red Sox, allowed four runs over five innings, allowing nine baserunners (six hits and three walks) while striking out four.
"It's a little bit disappointing because I only threw five innings, so it's never good when you do that, but the good thing is that we won the game," Jimenez said. "That's why whatever I did doesn't matter right now. It's all about the team."
Mychal Givens stranded the tying run at third base in the sixth inning. After allowing a leadoff double to Castillo, Givens retired the next three batters, striking out Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Betts back to back to end the inning.
After Givens (1 2/3 scoreless innings) retired the first two batters in the seventh, Brian Matusz entered the game to face Ortiz and retired the slugger on a ground out to first. Ortiz is now 3-for-28 against the left-handed Matusz in his career.
Matusz was in the game to face three straight left-handed bats, but after retiring Ortiz to end the seventh, Matusz allowed a leadoff homer to rookie Travis Shaw in the eighth that tied the game at 5-5. That would be the only run the Orioles bullpen would allow.