O's secure first winning record in 15 years

O's secure first winning record in 15 years

O's secure first winning record in 15 years
OAKLAND -- For the first time since 1997, the Baltimore Orioles have secured a winning season. Just don't expect any celebrations from a club focused on much higher aspirations.

"It's just another step," reliever Brian Matusz said following Sunday's 9-5 win over the Oakland A's. "It's a great feeling to come out here and accomplish any one of our goals, but there are many more to go this year. We're not just going to stop here. We are going to keep going and play good baseball."

They got back to that Sunday, using a pair of homers from catcher Matt Wieters and a four-hit afternoon from Endy Chavez to surpass the combined run total from their previous three games and avoid a sweep in Oakland.

The victory -- dubbed a must-win by center fielder Adam Jones after Saturday's loss -- marks Baltimore's third in its past 19 games at the Oakland Coliseum and, most importantly, keeps the Orioles within a game of the American League East-leading New York Yankees, who defeated the Rays on Sunday in New York. It also adds a little lift as the players boarded a plane to Seattle, unsure of if they will have to return to the Coliseum for a potential AL Wild Card game, which would be the case if the postseason started Monday.

"We're trying to win our division and we are trying to get to the playoffs, in that order," manager Buck Showalter said. "We will think about that if we get that opportunity. But games like this give you that opportunity."

The O's handed a red-hot A's team its second loss in 10 games, and its first since Aug. 23 against a team other than the Angels. Fresh off its first pair of back-to-back losses since Aug. 16-17, Baltimore rebounded in a big way in a 13-hit afternoon that keeps the club's incredible season rolling in the right direction.

"I see it as an 82nd win, and we need to be able to get a lot more to take us to the playoffs," Wieters said. "That's how I'm looking at it -- 82 [wins]. We need to keep playing and playing well."

Wieters, behind the plate again after Saturday's night game, went yard twice off A's rookie starter Dan Straily to help chase the right-hander from the game after only 4 2/3 innings in his first career appearance vs. the Orioles.

"That's the most guys I've ever walked in a single game in my life," said Straily, who issued two walks in the fifth, including Mark Reynolds' bases-loaded free pass. "That's frustrating. Just poor fastball command, started falling behind hitters and then starting to be too fine. Wasn't even close to the strike zone."

O's lefty Randy Wolf -- starting for the first time since Aug. 19 as a member of Milwaukee -- allowed only a two-run homer to Josh Reddick in the first in a 72-pitch outing that included four strikeouts. The 36-year-old Wolf allowed eight baserunners, but worked his way out of any trouble, most notably striking out George Kottaras and Collin Cowgill to strand runners on first and second in the fourth.

Reliever Tommy Hunter worked out of a similar jam, and fanned Chris Carter and Josh Donaldson to end the fifth for his fourth consecutive scoreless appearance, Matusz followed Hunter with two perfect innings, lowering his ERA to 1.93 in 11 outings as a reliever.

"Brian's got a great look about him," Showalter said of Matusz, who was part of the team's Opening Day rotation before being switched to relief in Triple-A. "It's like he's found a new toy, got some real positive thoughts going and is real aggressive."

The O's bats were equally aggressive in adding to the lead, scoring in six innings to hold off a pesky A's squad -- which scored three runs in the final two innings -- in what Showalter called a "relentless" approach.

The key to that was Chavez, who tied a career-high with four hits -- last done last year with the Rangers -- and reached base safely a season-best five times. With Nick Markakis on the disabled list, Chavez, who figures to get more consistent playing time, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs to help pace a productive bottom of the order.

"I'm happy and glad to be back with the team and I want to do my best to help the team win," said Chavez, who opted to stay in Triple-A after clearing waivers earlier this season and was added to the team's roster in the wake of Markakis' injury. "It is good to get this win today because this makes us in a very good position to continue to fight."

The Orioles added three runs in the seventh inning, all of which were charged to reliever Tyson Ross, who walked Wieters and Reynolds to start things off. Rookie Manny Machado doubled in a run and Chavez drove in another pair of runners with his third single of the day. Chavez doubled and scored to start a two-run ninth and help push the O's lead to five.

Pedro Strop took over in the ninth but was lifted with two on and two outs after allowing a run. Jim Johnson quickly ended the rally by getting Carter to ground out for the closer's 43rd save of the season.

"The good thing about this team that I've noticed in the short time I've been here is that they are pretty resilient," Wolf said. "They kind of get over things quickly. And that's what good teams do. They don't dwell on the things that happened yesterday and things that have happened that aren't that good. They kind of move on and feel they have a chance to win every day."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.