Rookie right-hander Kevin Gausman fell short of perfection, but he was pretty good Wednesday in the Orioles' 4-3 win against the Los Angeles Angels at Camden Yards.
Making his 10th start of the year and 15th of his career, Gausman carried a perfect game into the fifth inning -- retiring the first 14 batters he faced. He then walked three straight Angels hitters, missing on several close pitches that were called balls by home plate umpire Kerwin Danley.
With the bases loaded, Los Angeles catcher Chris Iannetta slapped a 97-mph, full-count fastball into center field for a two-run single. It wiped out the potential no-hitter and shutout in one swing.
But it didn't affect Gausman's quality start, his fifth of the season. And it helped the Orioles (60-46) get to a season-best 14 games over .500 while guaranteeing another series win against the formidable Angels (63-43). Overall, the Orioles have lost just one of their last nine series, dropping two of three games against the Oakland Athletics to start the second half.
The Orioles now have won four of five games against the Angels this season; all five have been decided by two runs or fewer. They now have the third-best record in the major leagues and will go for the sweep Thursday.
It wasn't easy Wednesday night before an announced 27,195.
After Iannetta's single in the fifth, Kole Calhoun followed with a double to right field, scoring David Freese and closing the gap to one run. Gausman then struck out perennial American League Most Valuable Player candidate Mike Trout to end the inning.
Gausman, 23, retired five of the next six batters he faced -- Josh Hamilton singled but was thrown out by catcher Caleb Joseph while trying to steal -- before the rookie's outing ended.
Gausman (5-3) lasted seven innings, giving up just three hits, three walks and three runs while striking out two batters. He faced the minimum number of batters in every inning but the fifth. He had some major help from his defense, including a diving catch by right fielder Nick Markakis and an eye-popping gem from third baseman Manny Machado.
It'll go down as one of the best plays of Machado's young career, which is particularly impressive considering Machado won the AL Platinum Glove for top defender in the league last season.
With two outs in the fourth, Albert Pujols hit a hard grounder down the line. Machado backhanded it behind third base, his momentum taking him about five steps into the grass in foul territory before unleashing a bullet to Steve Pearce. The first baseman had to make a nice stretch into foul territory, and Pujols was easily out.
It's those kinds of plays that often happen in a perfect game or no-hitter, but Gausman's momentary lack of command in the fifth cost him a shot at history.
Angels right-hander Garrett Richards also pitched well. And he also was hampered by a couple brief rough spots in an otherwise strong outing.
With one out in the first inning, Richards allowed a single to Machado and then a two-run homer to center field by Adam Jones. It was Jones' 21st homer of the season and 11th to come in the first inning. The Orioles are now 10-1 in games in which Jones has homered in the first inning.
The Orioles center fielder is on a roll since appearing in his fourth All-Star Game on July 15 in Minneapolis. He now has hit five homers in 12 games since the All-Star break. With the homer, Jones now has 85 at Camden Yards, tying him for fourth with Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. He trails only Rafael Palmeiro (124), Brady Anderson (91) and Melvin Mora (89).
Richards (11-4) allowed two more runs in the fourth on a two-out double by David Lough and an RBI single by Ryan Flaherty. Lough raced from second base and beat the throw home from Hamilton in left field to score what proved to be a crucial run. Richards, who allowed four runs and six hits, has lost two straight after winning seven consecutive decisions.
Relievers Darren O'Day and Zach Britton combined for two scoreless innings with Britton getting his 21st save of the season.
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