The Orioles didn't get the offensive breakout that they've long been seeking, a night filled with home runs, plenty of other extra-base hits and some lopsided numbers on the scoreboard.
But what they did get was just as satisfying for a team that has struggled all year to find ways to score runs. The Orioles scored a run in the fourth and two more in the sixth without getting a hit in their 5-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night before an announced 14,686 at Camden Yards.
The Orioles tied the game on Dallas Braden in the fourth inning on back-to-back walks and shortstop Cliff Pennington's throwing error, and then took the lead for good in the sixth on back-to-back sacrifice flies by Ty Wigginton and Adam Jones.
Nick Markakis then added some power to the proceedings with a solo homer in the eighth, his first since May 1. Matt Wieters completed the scoring with an RBI double later in the inning. Those were the only two extra-base hits on the night for the Orioles, who won for their just the third time in 10 games and improved to 15-31 on the season.
That was plenty for starter Jeremy Guthrie, who persevered through six innings to win his third straight decision, and a revamped bullpen. Mark Hendrickson retired six of the seven hitters that he faced in the seventh and eighth, and Will Ohman pitched a perfect ninth, and still hasn't given up an earned run this season.
Guthrie allowed one earned run on six hits, walking three and hitting one. He fought command issues for most of the night, hitting the 63-pitch mark by the end of the third inning. But he was able to come up with a pitch when he needed it.
Even in the second inning when Oakland scored its only run on Mark Ellis' RBI groundout, Guthrie minimized the damage with men on second and third and one out.
In the third inning, the A's had the bases loaded with two outs and Guthrie induced Kevin Kouzmanoff to hit a soft liner to second baseman Julio Lugo. He then stranded two more base runners in the fourth, got a key double play to avoid trouble in the fifth and stranded another base runner in the sixth, his final inning.
It was Guthrie's third consecutive start in which he allowed one earned run or less, leaving his ERA after 10 starts at 3.64. Overall, he has eight quality starts in his 10 outings.
It was Braden's third start since pitching the 19th perfect game in Major League history on May 9 against the Tampa Bay Rays. It was the second by an A's pitcher and it came 42 years and one day after Catfish Hunter did it against Minnesota on May 8, 1968.
In his following two starts after the historic afternoon at the Coliseum, Braden went 0-2 with a respectable 3.86 ERA. However, like several of the Orioles' starters, his biggest issue has been getting very little run support. The A's haven't scored a run with Braden in the game in three of his last four starts, all losses.
He didn't figure to need much support last night against an Orioles team, which he has dominated on multiple occasions. Braden entered Tuesday night's start with a 5-1 record and a 1.57 ERA in six career outings (five starts) against them.
Out of those five starts, he's allowed one run in four of them, and two runs in the other. The one two-run start came on April 16 of this year, when he beat the Orioles 4-2, allowing only a Ty Wigginton homer over seven innings.
Overall, the Orioles hadn't gotten more than five hits against Braden in any of his five starts against them, and they've averaged less than four hits a game against him during that span.
Tuesday night, Markakis ended any potential no-hit discussion early with a sharp single up the middle with two outs in the first innings. The Orioles actually had hits in each of the first three innings, but couldn't score a run.
That changed in the fourth when Braden issued back-to-back walks to Markakis and Miguel Tejada. Wigginton then grounded into a fielder's choice with Braden fielding a comebacker and then cutting down the lead runner at third.
Jones, who extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a second-inning single, then hit a hard grounder to first base that Daric Barton fielded and threw to second for the second out. However, shortstop Cliff Pennington's throw to first base was way off line and bounced off Jones and headed down the right-field line.
Tejada scored from second easily to tie the game at one, and Jones made it all the way to third, where he was stranded when Braden fanned Wieters.
Braden left the game after just four innings, matching his shortest start of the season. He allowed one unearned run on three hits, and two walks while striking out four in the 62-pitch outing. It was announced later that he was removed from the game due to manager Bob Geren's decision.
Tyson Ross replaced him and allowed the two runs in the sixth inning, which started with back-to-back walks to Markakis and Tejada, a wild pitch and then the two sacrifice flies by Wigginton and Jones.