Summer games at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington are supposed to be high-scoring affairs in which no lead is ever safe.
So it's not surprising that in their 6-4 comeback victory over host Texas, the Orioles were forced to mount a late-inning rally after their offense was seemingly dormant through six innings.
The shocker Thursday was how the scuffling Orioles (26-59) surged back — on the strength of a couple hit batters, a well-placed single and an error. And, of course, the generosity of Texas' bullpen.
The victory broke the Orioles' three-game losing streak and gave them their first win against the American League West-leading Rangers (50-35) in three tries this season.
Perhaps most important, it was the Orioles' first win on the road when trailing after seven innings in 29 tries.
With the Orioles trailing 4-1 in the seventh, outfielder Felix Pie continued his scorching return from the disabled list, homering off starter Tommy Hunter, who won five of his six outings this season.
The Orioles had several chances to take the lead in the seventh, but Julio Lugo twice failed to get a bunt down with two runners on and no outs before striking out. After Patterson's single, Miguel Tejada hit into an inning-ending double play.
But the Orioles rallied again in the eighth — in what might have been their most improbable big inning of the season.
Frank Francisco, the Rangers' former closer, entered in the eighth and immediately got Nick Markakis to hit a grounder to short, which was booted by Elvis Andrus. Markakis then stole second and moved to third on a hard single up the middle by Ty Wigginton.
That was the last hard hit of the eighth for the Orioles. And yet they did enough to score three runs and take the lead. Francisco (6-4) plunked Adam Jones with a pitch to load the bases with no outs.
Left-hander Darren Oliver entered to face Pie and hit him in the right hand with an inside fastball that tied the score at 4. Oliver walked Craig Tatum to give the Orioles the lead, and two batters later, Lugo hit a soft flare into right field to score Jones. Pie attempted to score from second but was thrown out at the plate.
"I think we did a little bit of everything," Wigginton said. "You had Scotty Moore and Pie hit the big home runs, and then you look at that one inning. Nicky found a way to get on base. … He steals a bag, I get a base hit and then we got guys being patient, making pitchers make tough pitches and two hit batsmen, that's the kind of stuff that can happen."
The two-run lead held up, thanks to the Orioles bullpen. Four relievers — Mark Hendrickson, David Hernandez (4-7), Jason Berken and Alfredo Simon shut down the Rangers' potent offense for 4 1/3 innings.
"It is unbelievable with these guys," Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said of his team. "When you think they are out, they come on back. We got some breaks here that we have not been normally on the end of getting those breaks. And we capitalized."
Simon picked up his 11th save, and Hernandez, with 1 1/3 scoreless innings, became the team's leader in wins with four. The victory guaranteed that the Orioles wouldn't be the first team in baseball history to enter the All-Star break without four wins from at least one pitcher.
It also spared Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie from the indignity of suffering a major league-leading 11th loss.
Guthrie left Thursday's start in the fifth inning, trailing 4-1. The fifth could have been much worse — he walked three and gave up a single — but Guthrie induced a bases-loaded, 6-2-3 double play from slow-footed Bengie Molina, and then Justin Smoak lined out against Hendrickson to keep the Rangers scoreless in the inning.
It was a key shutdown inning that allowed the Orioles to battle back.
"Great pitching effort [by the bullpen], and then the bats were there," Guthrie said. "We had some great at-bats and fought against a guy that was throwing the ball well, got him out of the game."
Guthrie has failed to go at least five innings in two consecutive starts, and it was the third straight time he has allowed three or more walks. Usually demonstrating strong command, Guthrie has walked 12 batters in his past three starts after issuing 22 walks in his first 15 outings.
On Thursday, he was charged with a season-high five walks while giving up seven hits and four earned runs and striking out one. The right-hander threw 88 pitches, only 48 four strikes.
The powerful Rangers scored three runs in the second with only one extra-base hit, a leadoff double by Josh Hamilton. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young each had RBI singles, and the Rangers were aided by throwing errors from Guthrie on a pickoff attempt and catcher Craig Tatum on a steal attempt.
Texas added its fourth run in the third inning when Hamilton homered off the right-field mezzanine facing, a 399-foot shot for his 22nd of the season.
The Orioles didn't get on the board against Hunter until the fifth, when Scott Moore hit his third homer this season.
He struck out a career-high seven and walked just one but didn't get the win, thanks to an improbable eighth inning in which Texas' bullpen couldn't hold a lead against a team that hadn't rallied that late away from home this season.
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