It certainly wasn't pretty as Orioles pitchers walked a total of 10 Boston Red Sox batters and allowed three solo home runs. But in a season that has featured the Orioles finding every possible way to lose a game, the end result couldn't have looked any sweeter, especially to third baseman Miguel Tejada.
Tejada ripped a game-tying solo homer off hard-throwing setup man Daniel Bard with two outs in the eighth inning and then hit the game-winning single off Manny Delcarmen with two outs in the 10th as the Orioles stormed out of the dugout to celebrate what they hope will be a momentum-building 5-4 victory before an announced 30,668 at Camden Yards.
"It feels great," said Tejada, who went 3-for-4 with three RBIs. "We [haven't] done that before. That's the first [walk-off] of the year. It feels really special just because we did it here at home. I think that's why we played nine hard innings -- because we had the opportunity to win the game.
Tejada fell behind Delcarmen 1-2 before bouncing a single up the middle and into center field, leaving the Red Sox with no play on Adam Jones at home plate. Jones had hit a one-out double off Ramon Ramirez. Red Sox manager Terry Francona then ordered an intentional walk of Nick Markakis and brought in Hideki Okajima, who fanned Matt Wieters on a 3-2 pitch.
Then Francona gave the ball to Delcarmen who couldn't get the final out in a game where the Red Sox went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left 11 runners on.
"A lot of twists and turns, but what it comes down to is getting the big hit when you need it from a guy who's been there, and that's why Tejada is who he is," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, who used six different pitchers after starter David Hernandez exited the game with a lead and one out in the sixth. "He has the ability to rise to the occasion because he's been there so many times and he shows tremendous poise."
The Orioles won for the second time in four games on the homestand and improved to 5-18 for the season. All but one of those wins are by one run, and two came in extra innings.
"Me and [Ty Wigginton] were talking about that and he said, 'Wait and see how Miggi really hits because I haven't had the opportunity to play with him,'" Jones said. "The last couple days, you could see it. You put him in a tough situation, and he usually comes through. There's no quit in this team, tons of fight. I know things haven't been going our way so far this year, but it doesn't mean we're not going out there battling every day."
The Orioles also got a key out from reliever Cla Meredith, who stranded the bases loaded in the eighth after another poor outing from Jim Johnson, who gave up the game-tying single to Dustin Pedroia in the seventh, then the go-ahead homer to J.D. Drew (his second of the game) in the eighth.
Alfredo Simon stranded two base-runners in the ninth by fanning David Ortiz on a full-count pitch, and then the much-maligned Matt Albers pitched a perfect top of the 10th.
Before Tejada's late-game home run heroics and the clutch bullpen work, the Orioles had put on a clinic on what not to do to win a baseball game.
They loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning off a seemingly on-the-ropes John Lackey and didn't score a run, thanks largely to a weak comebacker by Garrett Atkins that resulted in a double play.
Reliever Jason Berken walked the Boston Red Sox's No. 9 hitter on four pitches with a one-run lead in the seventh, and not surprisingly, that guy -- former O's draft pick Darnell McDonald -- eventually scored the game-tying run.
Then there was Jones, the potential go-ahead run in a tie game in the bottom of the seventh, getting picked off first base with Nick Markakis at the plate.
"We were walking a fine line there," Trembley said. "We didn't get the outs. We walked the No. 9 guy way too many times, and previously all those mistakes will come back and find a way to beat you. They didn't tonight. We found a way to overcome some deficiencies and some things that didn't go our way."
That was largely because of Tejada, who two nights earlier had aggravated the hip injury that kept him out of four games on the West Coast trip.
"He's not 100 percent right now. He's not," said Trembley. "[The] night before last, running through the base and making the turn, he tweaked it. And [first base coach John Shelby] alerted us that he probably should come out of the game, and Tejada yelled over, 'I'm not coming out.' It's just great to have him on our side. He's a pro."
As the 10th inning unfolded and the game was taken out of his hands because of the intentional walk, Markakis just wanted Tejada, who had turned around a 94 mph fastball from Bard and sent it halfway up the left-field seats in his previous at-bat, to get another chance.
"What better guy to come up in that situation and drive the winning run in?" Markakis said.