MIAMI - -This was the last way that the Orioles wanted their five-game winning streak and one of their most improbable comebacks of the season to end.
Trailing by three runs with two outs and nobody on in the ninth, the Orioles strung together five straight singles to tie a game that minutes earlier they appeared to have no chance of winning. However, they were forced to trudge off the field in the bottom of the 12th as the Florida Marlins celebrated a 7-6 victory before what remained of an announced 10,222 on Tuesday night at Land Shark Stadium.
Jorge Cantu stroked an RBI single off Brian Bass to score Emilio Bonifacio from second base and secure the victory for the Marlins, who had a five-run lead and only six outs to get, and a three-run advantage with the Orioles down to their last out.
"They got the job done," dejected Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "That's all there is to it. We had a very good comeback and put ourselves in a position to win the game, and it didn't happen."
The Orioles (32-38) made a couple of crucial mistakes in the final two innings, starting with Bass' four-pitch walk of Bonifacio to start the bottom of the 12th. Bass followed with a wild pitch, and after an intentional walk to Hanley Ramirez, Cantu lined a single into left field to drive in the winning run.
"Obviously, you don't want to start the inning off by walking one of the fastest guys in the game," Bass said. "Putting him on first with no outs is pretty much a guaranteed run."
Left fielder Luke Scott charged Cantu's single and made a good throw home that beat the Florida base runner, but catcher Gregg Zaun couldn't handle the hop as Bonifacio slid in safely. "It's a play that I should have made," Zaun said.
The Orioles, who got a combined 0-for-11 performance from Adam Jones and Aubrey Huff, were denied a chance to take the lead in the top of the 11th, thanks largely to a base-running gaffe by Ty Wigginton.
With Zaun on first and one out, Wigginton slapped a single to right, but he was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double. That left Zaun on third with two outs, and the next batter, pinch hitter Rich Hill - Trembley had no position players left on the bench and had to turn to one of his starting pitchers to hit - lined out to end the Orioles' threat.
"I knew it was going to take a good throw," Wigginton said. "I obviously wouldn't have [gone] if I knew 100 percent I was going to be out. I gave it a shot, and it backfired."
The game, which featured dueling quality starts from Koji Uehara and the Marlins' Andrew Miller, was tied at 1 heading into the seventh inning, when things started to unravel for the Orioles. Shortstop Robert Andino came about 8 inches short of keeping Ramirez, the player he was buried on the bench behind during his days as a Marlin, from making a difference.
With the bases loaded and one out, Andino fielded Bonifacio's grounder, but his momentum carried him past second base without touching it. That loaded the bases and forced the Orioles to pitch to one of the game's best hitters.
Ramirez drove Danys Baez's 1-1 pitch into the left-center-field seats, the grand slam giving the Marlins a 6-1 lead. It was the second crucial homer surrendered in as many outings by Baez, who allowed a three-run shot to the Philadelphia Phillies' Ryan Howard on Saturday.
"You have good days and bad days, and today was one of those bad days," Baez said.
The Orioles, who managed only one hit through the first seven innings off Miller, scored twice in the eighth on Matt Wieters' second career homer and Brian Roberts' double-play ball. Down 6-3 in the ninth against closer Matt Lindstrom, Melvin Mora appeared to hit an innocent one-out single.
Scott followed with a single, and Wieters cut the Orioles' deficit to 6-4 with a base hit before being lifted for a pinch runner in the form of pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Wigginton made it a one-run game with a pinch-hit single, and Oscar Salazar stroked the game-tying hit off Brian Sanches.
As it turned out, the Orioles needed one more run to complete the comeback.
"We've been playing good baseball lately," Wigginton said. "Anytime you're playing good baseball, you feel like, games like that, you're going to pull out."
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