By Mark Bowman and Connor Smolensky
MLB.com |@mlbbowman |
BALTIMORE -- After watching his team squander a few late-inning opportunities on Monday night at Camden Yards, Matt Wieters opened the bottom of the 11th inning with a home run off Luis Avilan to give the Orioles a 2-1 win over the Braves.
"That was a pitch, in that situation, I just wanted to go out there and throw strikes," said Avilan, who allowed the homer on a 1-0 fastball. "I didn't want to fall behind that hitter and have to throw a fastball. I think it was a good pitch. It was just a little bit up. Tough things happen. Sometimes you're going to be good and sometimes you're going to be bad."
The Braves gained a brief lead when Adonis Garcia tallied the game's first run with his one-out home run in the ninth inning off Zach Britton.
But the Orioles battled back against their former closer Jim Johnson, who surrendered consecutive singles to Adam Jones and Wieters before allowing J.J. Hardy's game-tying sacrifice fly.
Alex Wood and Kevin Gausman produced an impressive pitchers' duel, during which neither team advanced a player past second base through seven innings. The only players to reach second during that span were former Oriole Nick Markakis and Garcia, who each recorded a double against Gausman in the first four innings.
"It's fun. You kind of feed off of each other," Gausman said of pitching against Wood. "You almost want to show up the other guy and you are waiting for somebody to crack. That's kind of the way it is right now. Everybody is hunting for wins right now, and that's the biggest thing, we got a win tonight."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Encouraging start from Gausman: Gausman made his fifth start of the season, and it was probably his best. The right-hander went a career-high 7 2/3 innings, giving up six hits, no runs and a walk while striking out five. He threw a season-high 107 pitches and was still hitting 98 mph in the eighth inning. His night ended after he gave up back-to-back singles.
"I felt pretty comfortable out there," Gausman said. "You get through the fifth scoreless, I think that's when your confidence starts to get up. Me and [catcher Wieters], we were on the same page the whole game. ... Having him back there, he's pitched against a lot of these guys, so that's something you definitely take into consideration." More >
Stirring return: Playing his first career game against the Orioles, Markakis received a rousing ovation before he began the game with an opposite-field double. The veteran right fielder, who spent the past nine seasons in Baltimore, capped his two-hit night with a two-out, eighth-inning single that put him in position to be the game's first player to advance to third base when Cameron Maybin followed with a single. This threat ended when Brian Matusz entered to strike out Freddie Freeman. More >
Wood dazzles: As Wood surrendered just three singles over 7 1/3 scoreless innings, he appeared to benefit from his decision to move to the first-base side of the rubber after the All-Star break. The lefty retired 12 straight batters after Hardy was awarded a single when Wood was not able to make contact with the first-base bag after receiving Freeman's toss in the second inning. More >
Wieters delivers the game-winner: Wieters put the finishing touches on a comeback victory. He roped a line drive off Avilan's 1-0 pitch into the center-field stands in front of 26,256. It was Wieters fourth career walk-off homer and first since May 1, 2014, in Game 1 of a doubleheader against the Pirates.
"It won't ever get old," he said. "It's a great feeling, to put a good swing on the ball at a time when you need it. It's a good feeling. You'll never get tired of it." More >
"We knew about Nick. I was pretty proud of how everybody responded to him. It was one of those things where we were all in the dugout wanting to applaud too, but you kind of did it with your heart and not your hands. Especially when you play so many unfriendly venues, more than just the unfriendly fans, it's nice to get back to this type of baseball environment for our players. It's always a reminder of what we're trying to accomplish and what it means to so many people other than us." -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter on Markakis and being back in Baltimore for the first time after the break.
"[Johnson] pitched great, you can't defend that ball Adam Jones hit to start the inning. He made a great pitch. It's a chopper and they get a couple hits and get one run. It sure would be nice to get a couple runs under our belt to give our pitchers [a cushion]." -- Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez
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Johnson had converted seven straight save opportunities and he entered Monday having surrendered just one earned run over his past 20 appearances. He has now allowed an earned run in both of the appearances he has made at Camden Yards since leaving the Orioles after back-to-back 50-save seasons (2012-13).
Gausman (LSU) and Wood (Georgia) also matched up against each other in college on April 27, 2012, in Baton Rouge, La. Both pitchers earned no-decisions in those starts as well, as Gausman gave up five runs in six innings, and Wood allowed four in seven. LSU ended up winning the game, 6-5.
"I know he was a little older than me, but he was throwing 98 then, 95, 96," Gausman said of facing Wood in college. "It's just kind of cool. You face a guy in college and then you get to face him on the biggest stage, the stage that everybody is trying to get to. It's pretty cool."
ORIOLES COME UP SHORT IN THE 10th
The Orioles had their chance to capture the win in the 10th, but didn't convert on a great opportunity. Nolan Reimold hit a one-out double to right-center and the Braves intentionally walked Chris Davis to get to the Orioles best hitters in Manny Machado and Jones. It was the second time on Monday that Davis was walked intentionally, and for the second time, Machado struck out. Jones battled with Arodys Vizcaino, but flied out to right on the eighth pitch of the at-bat to end the inning.
WHAT'S NEXT Braves: Atlanta will send Julio Teheran to the mound when this three-game series resumes on Tuesday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Teheran has shown some improvement as he has posted a 2.81 ERA in four starts this month. But he has produced a 6.95 ERA in 10 road starts.
Orioles:Ubaldo Jimenez (7-6, 3.81 ERA) will oppose Teheran. Baltimore's right-hander is coming off his shortest start of the season in which he lasted just 2 1/3 innings against the Yankees, giving up eight hits, seven runs, a home run and three walks while striking out two. He will be going for his first win since June 28 against Cleveland.