The Orioles scored their fourth run in the eighth when Wilson Betemit hit a 438-foot homer against former Oriole Jeremy Accardo. It was Betemit’s first homer since June 26.
Betemit’s blast proved to be exceptionally important in the ninth.
Luis Ayala, who had thrown two perfect innings, came out for a third because Showalter was hoping to rest his bullpen, and specifically lefty Troy Patton. It was the second straight outing that Ayala had entered for a third inning; previously he hadn’t pitched in three innings since May 20, 2009 when he was with the Minnesota Twins.
“I’ll be a good teammate. I’ll take every ball. I’m glad to pitch every time,” Ayala said. “Sometimes you can’t [anticipate] the job until you get into the game.”
He fanned the first batter in the ninth but allowed a Michael Brantley single before Santana homered to make it 4-2.
“In that third inning, I might have been a little tired, but that’s a situation where you need to focus more on your pitches,” Ayala said. “I made a good pitch to Brantley and he hit a single, and then I made a mistake to Santana.”
Johnson entered and allowed a double to Shelley Duncan that nearly left the park, an RBI single to pinch-hitter Travis Hafner and a flyout before pitching carefully to Shin-Soo Choo and walking him. That set up the battle against Cabrera, which Johnson won.
“I kind of had to force myself to pitch around Choo. I didn’t like the matchup there. Just based on the way I felt on the mound today,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to trust yourself. I felt like I had a better chance to get Cabrera for the last out than Choo.
“You’ve just got to make that one pitch and then everything is forgotten.”