Orioles top Mariners, 5-4, on Jones' squeeze bunt in 11th inning

They break two-game losing streak, improve to 7-1 at home under Showalter

August 17, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Adam Jones had seen and sweated enough.

The Orioles had stranded 12 base runners and managed just one run over the previous eight innings, and that was on a bases-loaded walk, and Jones decided to do something about it. So he ... bunted.

Jones' two-out bunt base hit in the bottom of the 11th inning scored Nick Markakis from third and sent the Orioles to a 5-4 victory over the Seattle Mariners in front of an announced 12,375 at sultry Camden Yards.

"Yeah, we've been working on that," Orioles manager Buck Showalter joked. "No, you've got good players making good decisions. Â I love it. I think it's a great play. We need 90 feet there, and there's a lot of ways to get it."

Jones directed Sean White's 1-0 pitch down the third base line. Mariners third baseman Jose Lopez rushed forward and tried to barehand the ball, but it got past him as the Orioles poured out of the dugout to celebrate another late-game victory at home.

The Orioles (42-77) are 7-1 at Camden Yards under Showalter, and four of those wins have been of the walk-off variety. They are also 11-3 in extra-inning games this season.

Asked when he decided to bunt, Jones said: "As soon as I did it. I can bunt. I've been bunting this year. Good idea to do it."

Jones, a former teammate of Lopez's in Seattle, spoke to the third baseman earlier in the game, and he said he told him, " 'I'm not going to bunt on you. I'm not going to bunt this series.' Hey, he moved back."

The bunt seemed to surprise everyone in the park except Markakis, who sprinted home, never looking to see whether Lopez was able to field the ball. Markakis had gotten the inning started with a leadoff double, the 200th of his career. He moved to third on Ty Wigginton's groundout and stayed there when Corey Patterson grounded out to drawn-in shortstop Josh Wilson. Jones took a ball from White before laying down the bunt.

"It was unbelievable," said Orioles starter Brad Bergesen, who allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings and got a no-decision. "I don't know if I've ever seen a game won in that style before. It took a lot of guts, and he was able to make it happen."

The score was tied at 3 heading into the 10th when the Mariners' Adam Moore, a catcher who entered the game hitting .159 with two home runs and six RBIs, unloaded on Alfredo Simon's 2-1, 95 mph fastball, sending it 388 feet into the left-field seats. It was his fourth hit of the night and the latest home run off the Orioles' closer. Simon has allowed homers in four straight appearances and in six of his past 10 outings.

The Orioles then tied in the bottom of the inning against Mariners closer David Aardsma, who easily could have been the losing pitcher if not for a blown call by first base umpire Adrian Johnson and a critical 3-2 pitch to Brian Roberts.

With runners on first and second and no outs against Aardsma, Felix Pie dropped down a bunt. Replays showed that he had beaten Lopez's throw. However, Johnson called Pie out.

After intentionally walking Matt Wieters, Aardsma got Cesar Izturis to hit into a fielder's choice; Mariners second baseman Chone Figgins got the out at home. Aardsma then walked Lugo to bring home the tying run. Roberts worked the count full but grounded out to first to send the game into the 11th.

"A lot of opportunities there to throw in the towel, and we kept grinding," Showalter said. "I'm proud of them. We refused to give in there, and it was fun to watch."

Before the 10th, the Orioles had been held scoreless for seven straight innings, but they stayed in the game, largely because their bullpen kept putting up zeros in relief of Bergesen, who allowed back-to-back homers to Russell Branyan and Lopez to tie the score at 3 in the third.

Mark Hendrickson inherited Bergesen's bases-loaded-and-one-out jam in the sixth and didn't give up a run, retiring Ichiro Suzuki and striking out Figgins.

The Mariners had runners on the corners and no outs in the eighth, and Koji Uehara and Michael Gonzalez combined to strike out three straight batters, with Gonzalez getting Suzuki for the final out of the inning. Gonzalez and Simon then stranded a runner after Izturis' error in the sixth.

"To have a game like this and find a way to win, it just adds confidence to everybody in here," Hendrickson said. "We'll just keep working and building off this."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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