Jimenez shows command out of bullpen

Moved from rotation on Friday, starter-turned-reliever delivers 6 strong frames

Jimenez shows command out of bullpen

HOUSTON -- Ubaldo Jimenez pitched for the Orioles on Sunday after all.

The start at Minute Maid Park went to Alec Asher, who joined the rotation after manager Buck Showalter decided to send Jimenez to the bullpen on Friday. But it was Jimenez who finished the game, not allowing a run in the final five innings of his six-frame relief appearance.

Jimenez took the move to the bullpen in stride. The right-hander said he would do whatever he could to help the club. And he did that on Sunday. In the Orioles' 8-4 loss to the Astros -- their seventh straight -- Jimenez retired his final 11 batters in an encouraging performance, allowing only two runs and five hits, with five strikeouts and two walks.

"I just executed pitches," said Jimenez, who has primarily been a starter his entire career. "They hit into ground balls, soft fly balls. And when we pitched behind the count, we throw a lot of breaking balls."

"It was tough [coming out of the bullpen]. I have to find a way to get it going."

Jimenez limited the Astros' damage after Asher allowed six runs on six hits across only two innings. The only runs Jimenez surrounded were a pair in the third.

In relief of Asher, Jimenez recorded his longest career relief appearance. It's only the third time since 2000 that a Baltimore reliever has pitched six innings in a game.

"It's always good to finally have a good one," Jimenez said. "Finally do something for the team, especially when they needed me. I was able to save the bullpen."

Asher got rocked, even giving up a cycle in the second. The Astros scored six times to turn a three-run Baltimore lead into a three-run Houston lead. The command that Asher previously showed out of the bullpen abandoned him in the 42-pitch frame. He threw too many balls over the center of the plate.

But Jimenez was spot on, retiring 13 of his final 14 batters. He struck out his final batter, Norichika Aoki, on an 89-mph two-seam fastball.

"He gave up a couple early, then shut it down after that," Showalter said. "Puts us in good position, health-wise, going into [Monday versus the Yankees].

"Hopefully, it's the start of him pitching good baseball we know he's capable of. It's a good outing for him, and hopefully it's a sign that he can get untracked down the road."

After giving up three hits in the third, Jimenez allowed only a fourth-inning single to Carlos Correa and a fifth-inning single to Marwin Gonzalez.

Richard Dean is a contributor to MLB.com based in Houston who covered the Orioles on Sunday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.