Baseball / Sports

Baltimore Orioles second baseman Ryan Flaherty throws out the Los Angeles Angels' David Freese in the sixth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore on Tuesday, July 29, 2014. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun/MCT)

Manny Machado's walk-off HR lifts Orioles past Angels, 7-6, in 12 innings

The Orioles hadn't played at home for more than two weeks, so it was fitting that their first game back at Camden Yards since the finale of the first half would unfold the way it did.

A nail-biter against the Los Angeles Angels stretched into extra innings before the Orioles prevailed with a 7-6 victory in the 12th on a game-ending, walk-off homer by Manny Machado.

Facing right-hander Cory Rasmus (2-1), Machado led off the 12th by smacking a 1-2 pitch over the left-field wall for his 11th homer this season. Machado dashed around the bases, flipped his helmet in the air as he neared home plate and then was mobbed by his jumping, screaming and sunflower-seed-throwing teammates.

These get-their-money's-worth Orioles have now played 15 extra-inning games this season and won 12 of them. Channeling their inner 2012 squad -- which was 16-2 in extra innings -- the Orioles have gone beyond nine innings in three of their last four games, and won all of them.

The walk-off win also gave the Orioles their eighth victory in their last 10 at home, putting them five games over .500 at Camden Yards for the first time since last September. The Orioles (59-46) are 7-4 since the All-Star break, including a 6-4 record on their West Coast trip, and haven't been 13 games over .500 since last August. It was their third win in four games against the Angels (63-42); all four have been decided by two or fewer runs.

The Orioles held the lead heading into the late innings, but they gave it back in the seventh on a grounder that should have been an inning-ending play. With two outs, reliever Brad Brach hit Mike Trout with a pitch and then allowed a single to Albert Pujols that put runners on the corners. Orioles manager Buck Showalter summoned left-hander Brian Matusz to face Josh Hamilton, who was 0-for-11 with seven strikeouts against Matusz in his career.

The move seemingly worked; Hamilton hit a grounder to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who fielded it and prepared to flip to second base. But second baseman Ryan Flaherty, who had been playing closer to first base on Hamilton, wasn't there. Hardy realized the runner would beat Flaherty, so he threw to first base. Hamilton was safe on the infield single, and Trout scored to tie the game.

It was that kind of back-and-forth game for the Orioles and Angels, two of the best teams in the American League. The clubs combined for 17 runs in their three battles last week in Anaheim, Calif., with neither side scoring more than four in any game.

Things were a little different Tuesday before an announced 36,882 at Camden Yards. Ten runs were scored before the fourth inning had ended.

Last Wednesday, right-handers Chris Tillman and Jered Weaver dueled in a game that Weaver and the Angels ultimately won, 3-2. Neither pitcher was as crisp Tuesday evening.

After allowing two runs against the Orioles in eight innings during last week's outing, Weaver gave up two runs in the first inning Tuesday.

With two outs, Weaver tried to sneak a two-strike, 88-mph fastball past Jones, who lined it over the left-field wall for his 20th home run of the season. He's now homered at least 20 times in each of his last four seasons. It was Jones' fourth longball in 11 games since the second half began.

The Orioles scored a second run in the first inning on an RBI single by Hardy. Machado doubled home a run in the second inning, and then Nick Markakis returned the lead to the Orioles in the fourth with a three-run homer against Weaver that struck the foul pole in right field. It was Markakis' eighth home run of the season.

Perhaps Weaver was still fuming from the previous at-bat in which he appeared to strike out catcher Nick Hundley on a full-count fastball, but home plate umpire Gary Cederstrom called it ball four. Weaver walked off the mound and yelled, "Where? Where?" to Cederstrom.

Two pitches later, Markakis took advantage of the break with his first homer since June 28. The Orioles' offense was playing a man down after struggling slugger Chris Davis was sent home because of illness before the game.

Weaver was pulled after five innings, allowing six runs, seven hits and four walks. Weaver hadn't allowed more than five runs in any of his previous 22 outings this year.

Tillman didn't fare much better. The Orioles right-hander snapped his streak of four straight quality starts with his shortest outing since June 8 at Texas. Tillman threw just one clean inning, and allowed the Angels to score at least one run in four of the five innings he pitched.

His biggest miscue came defensively. With a runner on third base and one out in the second inning, Tillman knocked down a hard comebacker by David Freese, picked up the ball and then threw it to the backstop, allowing Howie Kendrick to score. Two batters later, Kole Calhoun hit a double to drive in Freese.

The Angels picked up two other runs on productive outs, and Hamilton added his sixth homer of the season, a solo shot to center field in the fifth inning.

Tillman, who gave up five runs (three earned), six hits and a walk while striking out six batters, pitched to just one more hitter in the game. He left with a 6-5 lead, but the Orioles couldn't hold it thanks to the rare fielding snafu in the seventh.

The Orioles bullpen kept the Angels scoreless after that, with Ryan Webb (3-1) picking up the victory with a shaky, but scoreless 12th.

(c)2014 The Baltimore Sun

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