What seemed like a laugher in the fourth inning didn't end as one. After a five-run fourth that gave the Orioles a commanding 9-1 lead, the Angels battled back with a five-run seventh that brought them within striking distance. Still, those nine runs ended up being enough as the O's bullpen bended but didn't break, allowing the O's to escape with a 9-7 win.
First, the positives: Brian Matusz had a great rebound outing, allowing one run on seven hits in six innings. He struck out three and didn't walk a batter -- something that he's done too much this season. He got the win, his first since July 4.
The O's offense was also fantastic, accumulating 14 hits (12 against starter Ervin Santana) and nine runs. Santana wasn't fooling O's hitters last night, and they knocked him out after just 3.2 innings. Adam Jones and Felix Pie each had three hits, and Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott each had two. Pie tripled in a run in the second, and Scott belted a two-run homer in the fourth. Brian Roberts had a hit and a walk, and Nick Markakis doubled. Josh Bell also singled in a run.
Unfortunately, after a 24-minute rain delay in the bottom of the sixth inning, the O's momentum was gone and the Angels started to chip away at the lead. Matt Albers relieved Matusz, and here's what happened: single, fly out, single, double, double. David Hernandez then relieved Albers after three runs had scored, but the Angels weren't done: double, single, foul out, wild pitch (run scored). With two more runs tacked on, Hernandez left the game with an ankle injury, and Koji Uehara entered the game. He allowed a walk and an infield single before finally getting a ground ball to second to end the threat.
The O's failed to tack on any runs in the bottom of the seventh, so they led 9-6 going into the eighth. Uehara must have felt more better out there, because he struck out the side. Still, the Angels weren't done. Alfredo Simon entered the game in the ninth inning, and things got interesting. Simon allowed two straight doubles, which cut the lead to two. Then for some reason, Torii Hunter, who hit the second double, tried to steal third and was thrown out by Matt Wieters. Hunter is a great player and has made many phenomenal plays in his career, but to me, this is a benchable offense. The Angels weren't down by just one run in that situation (not that a steal is justified in that situation either); they were still down by two. And there still weren't any outs! What was Hunter thinking? He was already in scoring position, and his run didn't even mean that much. His decision just didn't make sense, but I'm glad he tried to steal and gave the O's an easy out. With the pressure slightly off, Simon got two fly outs -- while giving up a single in between -- to earn the save. It wasn't pretty, but it worked.
Two other notes: First, Roberts left the game after the rain delay with a left shin contusion. He was hit with the ball when diving back to second base early in the game, but he remained in the game. My guess is that he's fine, even if he gets the day off today just as a precaution. Second, the loss moved the Angels to one game under .500 (54-55), which is rather significant because, according to Joe Angel on O's radio last night, this is the latest in the season the Angels have been under .500 in about a decade. Must be nice, Angels fans.