After participating in his first post-victory news conference and after sidestepping a potential shaving-cream towel in the face, Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel walked into the home clubhouse Sunday afternoon and made a beeline to shortstop Cesar Izturis.
Samuel, the hard-charging, Dominican tough guy who Friday became the club's first Latino manager, had watery eyes as he bent over and hugged the seated Izturis, the soft-spoken veteran who raced home from second on a single to give the Orioles a 4-3, 11-inning victory over the Boston Red Sox.
The four-hour, 20-minute marathon broke the club's season-worst 10-game losing streak and marked the first win in three tries for Samuel, who has coached for 11 seasons but landed his first big league managerial opportunity after his friend, Dave Trembley, was fired late Thursday.
Izturis is one of Samuel's biggest supporters, and the manager said the win meant even more because it came via the shortstop's hustle — a 180-foot sprint on Nick Markakis' single to left-center against Boston reliever Hideki Okajima (2-2).
For his part, Izturis said he absolutely, positively was scoring on that play.
"I wanted that run so bad, especially because it was such a long game, and to get a 'W,' here at home against the Red Sox and for Juan," said Izturis, who walked to lead off the 11th.
"It's his first win and I got the run and then he gave me that hug, so it was big for him and big for everybody."
The Orioles (16-41) hadn't won since May 25 and hadn't led since May 30. They took care of the latter in the eighth when Scott Moore broke a tie at 2 with a double that scored Adam Jones.
But the Orioles gave it back in the ninth when Will Ohman, in his first save opportunity this season, allowed two hits and Dustin Pedroia's sacrifice fly, tying it at 3. It was the 32nd time in 57 games the Orioles allowed at least one run in the eighth or later.
The Red Sox (33-25), however, fell into the lone trap that has worked for the struggling Orioles. They have faced Boston nine times in 2010; four have gone into extra innings, and the Orioles have won all four. Overall, they are 5-2 in extra-inning games, leading the American League in victories after the ninth. The Red Sox have won just one of eight extra-inning contests.
Converted starter David Hernandez (2-5) picked up his first relief win of the season with two scoreless innings, and Markakis ended a 0-for-14 hitless streak with the 11th-inning single.
"We didn't let this one get away," Markakis said. "Our bullpen did a great job. Hernandez came in and did as good of a job as you could ask that late in the game under the circumstances we were in. It was a good team win."
A three-game sweep and continuance of the losing streak looked likely in the second, when Orioles starter Brian Matusz yielded a two-run homer to Victor Martinez and finished the second inning having thrown 49 pitches.
The rookie settled down after that, not yielding a run for the remainder of his outing, though he lasted just 5 2/3 innings, partially because of a career-high 117 pitches.
"I thought I was in the zone from the beginning. I felt really good. I missed that pitch; I tried to go in on Martinez and missed out over the plate," Matusz said. "I made a mistake, and I was able to move on from that."
He received key help from reliever Matt Albers, who entered in the sixth with the bases loaded and two outs and induced Bill Hall into an inning-ending groundout.
Played through intermittent rainstorms and before an announced 27,774, it was the longest game of the season for the Orioles. It had to seem interminable for Samuel, who seemingly had waited a lifetime for the outcome.
"Just in case you guys were wondering, I didn't get any more gray today," Samuel said, lifting his ball cap at the post-game news conference. "This is the same amount of gray I had when this game started."
Samuel is keeping the game ball and lineup card form the win, but he resisted another tradition when he jumped out of the way as Jones attempted to stick a towel filled with shaving cream in his face at the conference's end.
"I'm still the fastest," Samuel joked, referencing his fabled boast of 'I'm the fastest' when he was a player.
For a change, there were plenty of laughs and loud music in the Orioles' clubhouse.
"It's big. [Samuel] has his first win out of the way," Markakis said. "It's like a rookie going up there and getting his first hit out of the way. Now he can relax and manage us and have fun with it."