Baseball / Sports

Orioles win season-high fifth game in a row

BALTIMORE -- Following a 55-minute rain delay Saturday night, the Orioles had new life against the Houston Astros.

Closer Tommy Hunter had just blown a one-run lead in the top of the ninth before a downpour descended on Camden Yards. But when the clouds moved out, the Orioles rallied with two outs in the ninth to force the game into extra innings.

Down to their last out, the Orioles loaded the bases before pinch hitter Delmon Young beat out an infield hit to shortstop to drive in the tying run.

One inning later, catcher Steve Clevenger � starting while starter Matt Wieters rests his sore elbow � delivered a game-winning one-out double down the right-field line off Paul Clemens to give the Orioles a 5-4 walk-off win in 10 innings.

With the win, the Orioles (20-14) have won a season-high five straight games, are now six games above .500 and sit atop the American League East by 1 1/2 games over the New York Yankees.

J.J. Hardy reached on a one-out infield single to short and scored from first base on Clevenger's hit, sliding into home and into a celebration at the plate.

Ryan Webb (2-0) stranded the go-ahead run on second base in a scoreless top of the 10th.

Hunter, who entered the night having converted 11 of 12 save opportunities, couldn't hold a one-run, ninth-inning lead. Had he been able to preserve the lead in the top of the ninth before it started to rain, the Orioles might have already been in their beds by the time the game went into extra innings.

Hunter's second blown save of the season came after he was one out away from victory, but he ultimately allowed a two-out, two-run single to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve with runners at second and third.

While Hunter's first year as a closer has been a success so far, it hasn't been as smooth as he'd like. Hunter has allowed 24 base runners in 14 1/3 innings and has yet to record a clean full-inning outing.

Hunter's fellow relievers have picked him up. Over the past 15 games, the Orioles bullpen has allowed four runs over 15 innings � including three innings on Saturday � and all four of those runs have been allowed by Hunter.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Nelson Cruz gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead by crushing his team-high 10th homer of the year to lead off Houston reliever Josh Zeid for the eventual winning run.

Cruz took the first pitch of the inning into the Orioles bullpen in left-center field, his fifth homer of the season that has given the Orioles the lead.

Chris Carter started the rally against Hunter with a one-out single on an 0-2 pitch. Marc Krauss followed with a double to placing runners at second and third.

But Jonathan Villar hit a grounder to second against a drawn-in infield, and the Orioles caught pinch-runner Marwin Gonzalez between in a rundown between third and home. But the Astros still had runners at second and third.

Altuve followed with a looping single into center field to plate two runs. Villar beat Adam Jones' throw home for the eventual winning run and Hunter was replaced by left-hander Troy Patton.

Hunter's blown save also took away a win from Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who was unspectacular but grinded out his longest outing of the season.

Gonzalez kept his pitch count down and tossed a season-high seven innings, allowing two runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

The Orioles went into the late innings able to do little against Astros starter Collin McHugh, they had to like their chances against a Houston bullpen that came into the night owning the worst ERA in baseball (6.14).

The Orioles had just two hits the against McHugh until Jones took an 0-1 pitch to straight-away center for his fourth homer of the season with two outs in the sixth inning.

Hardy opened the seventh inning with a single, Clevenger dropped a bunt that McHugh slipped and fell while fielding, making both runners safe.

Steve Pearce's single up the middle loaded the bases and McHugh uncorked a wild pitch to Jonathan Schoop, allowing Hardy to score the tying run.

But for the Orioles couldn't take advantage with a big inning as the next three batters were retired.

The Astros were a menace on the base paths early, stealing four bases -- the most against the Orioles this season � in the first five innings against the battery of Gonzalez and Clevenger.

Heralded Astros rookie right fielder George Springer had two hits, including his second major league home run, a solo shot in the second inning off Gonzalez that scored the game's first run.

Springer sent a 90-mph, first-pitch delivery from Gonzalez into the left-field seats.

No. 9 hitter Jonathan Villar hit a one-out single in the third inning and landed on second on a fielding error on Jones. Villar quickly stole third base and scored two batters later on Dexter Fowler's RBI single to give Houston a 2-0 lead.

After a double steal put runners at second and third, Gonzalez stranded two in scoring position, striking out catcher Jason Castro and inducing a popup from Matt Dominguez to leave runners on second and third.

With the game tied, Zach Britton pitched a scoreless eighth in relief of Gonzalez, his seventh consecutive scoreless outing, before Hunter came on in the ninth.

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