They blew two leads and botched one opportunity after another in extra innings. But when Felix Pie slid in just ahead of Miguel Olivo's tag in the 13th inning, none of that mattered to the Orioles, who poured out of the dugout to celebrate a game that they should have won seemingly hours earlier.
Two batters after Pie had bounced an RBI single past Seattle Mariners second baseman Jack Wilson to tie the game, Matt Wieters' two-out RBI base hit capped the comeback against closer Brandon League and gave the Orioles a much-needed 7-6 victory Tuesday night before what remained of an announced 11,485 at Camden Yards.
"I'd rather be in that position again after having two opportunities earlier," said Wieters, who was mobbed just past first base after collecting his team-leading 20th RBI. "It was great to get another one and come through."
Wieters' line single to center ended a game that lasted 4 hours, 8 minutes and featured a benches-clearing incident in the 10th, 12 combined pitchers, four credited blown saves and 27 base runners stranded.
Wieters had stranded five runners in his previous three at-bats, and the Orioles left on 16 for the game, including six from the 10th through 12th innings. The Orioles had a runner on second base and one or none out in every inning from the ninth through 12th but couldn't score until Pie's hit with one out in the 13th brought in Nick Markakis, who had led off the frame with a single.
"Frustrating, but we won, so you don't even look back at those anymore," said Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, who had a big night offensively against his former team, going 3-for-6 with two doubles, a walk and three RBIs. "Look at the positive things. Regardless of what we were late in the game with runners in scoring position, that one made the difference."
Indeed, it did. The victory broke a four-game losing streak and was an important result with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez getting the ball Wednesday night opposite struggling Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman.
The Orioles had a variety of contributors, from starter Jake Arrieta, who allowed a two-run homer to Adam Kennedy and little else over six innings, to shortstop J.J. Hardy, who tied a career high with four hits and homered in his first at-bat coming off the disabled list, to Pie, who entered the game as a pinch runner in the eighth inning, went 2-for-3 and nearly incited a bench-clearing brawl after exchanging words with Mariners first baseman Justin Smoak.
Instead of just giving himself up and getting tagged after his slow roller to Smoak to start the 10th, Pie bumped the Mariners first baseman and the two jawed at each other while the benches cleared. However, there was no further incident and Orioles manager Buck Showalter praised Pie later for not just giving himself up.
"You're just supposed to stop and let everybody tag you?" Showalter said. "He was blocking his path to first base. What am I missing?"
When Pie, who said he didn't run into Smoak on purpose, was asked whether he was surprised the benches cleared, he said: "Not surprised. I played in the Dominican, so that sort of thing happens."
The minor dust-up and the frantic finish overshadowed an up-and-down game that began with two fine performances from highly touted young starters. Arrieta allowed two earned runs on four hits and three walks over six innings. Michael Pineda, the Mariners' rookie phenom, surrendered three runs on seven hits and one walk over six innings.
Pineda stood to be the losing pitcher when the Orioles strung together four straight two-out hits in the sixth inning. That included Jones' two-run double that gave the home team a 3-2 advantage, its first lead in a span of five days and 40 innings.
However, Michael Gonzalez, the much-maligned left-handed reliever who had turned in five consecutive scoreless outings, couldn't hold it in the seventh, allowing three straight hits. The first was a single by Michael Saunders, who had been in an 0-for-26 slump, and the final one was Chone Figgins' two-out double that tied the game. Later in the inning, Olivo gave the Mariners the lead with a bases-loaded single off Koji Uehara.
The Orioles reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the eighth as the first four batters reached against Jamey Wright. Luke Scott tied the game with a single, and Jones gave the Orioles the lead with another single.
Bidding for his seventh save, closer Kevin Gregg had a man on third and two outs when Smoak blooped a single into left field to tie the game.
"It seemed like our guys made some good pitches, and they found a way to get them in there," Showalter said. "I thought Kevin threw well. Just didn't get what he deserved."