"We're just on a mission," Jones said of an Orioles club that moved within a half-game of the New York Yankees -- who swept a doubleheader vs. the Blue Jays -- for the American League East lead. "I think our determination is so strong right now to where it doesn't matter who is on the mound, we know we've got to scratch and claw and beat them."
Mariners reliever Josh Kinney was the victim Wednesday night, with Jones blasting a full-count pitch into left field -- also scoring Nate McLouth -- for his 30th homer of the year, 16 of which have given the Orioles the lead. Winners of an AL-best 43 road games, the Orioles have won eight consecutive games over the Mariners with Wednesday's win marking the first three-game sweep in Seattle since May 16-18, 1997.
"You just get that feeling of never-say-die attitude," said Orioles starter Joe Saunders, who was rooting from inside the clubhouse after throwing eight stellar innings. "It's crazy. I thought we were going to play at least another 15 or 16 [innings] there. We were doing dancing in there, we were rallying and stuff like that. It gets to the point where you get comfortable in those situations and I think this team is."
Catcher Taylor Teagarden -- who has delivered several clutch hits, including Tuesday's game-winning RBI -- caught Seattle's Michael Saunders attempting to steal second base for the final out, with closer Jim Johnson pitching around a pair of singles to pick up his 45th save of the season, tying the club's single-season record set by Randy Myers in 1997.
"I love it," Teagarden said of being able to help the team in opportunities as Matt Wieters' backup. "I mean, whenever I get in there, I want to win the game. That's the biggest thing. If it takes extra innings, it does. But picking up wins, at this time of the year on the road, when we need them badly, makes me feel great."
Winners of four straight, the Orioles improved to 4-2 on a three-city, nine-game road trip as they try to keep pace in a back-and-forth AL East race and a closely contested Wild Card hunt. Baltimore entered Thursday with a half-game lead for the first AL Wild Card spot.
"One common denominator of all teams that get a chance to play when the season is over is they are competitive on the road," manager Buck Showalter said. "That's something we talked about this spring, we attacked that. It's been a good road team because of the mentality that they have. They travel well. ... It's not always a friendly venue but they kind of stay together on that and it's one thing I constantly told them since day one is you got to stay together. You can't let anything drive you away from your goal here. And if something rears its head, they have nipped it in the bud quickly."
Right-handed reliever Luis Ayala diffused the biggest spot of the game, getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the 10th by inducing a popup from Franklin Gutierrez to keep the game tied. Struggling reliever Pedro Strop issued a leadoff walk to Saunders and got Miguel Olivo to pop up on a bunt for the first out. After Saunders stole second, Strop walked pinch-hitter Trayvon Robinson to end his night and bring on lefty Brian Matusz to face pinch-hitter Mike Carp. Matusz, who went to the emergency room with an allergic reaction after Tuesday's game, struck out Carp on four pitches but exited in favor of Ayala after loading the bases on a walk to Dustin Ackley.
"It's a great feeling in here that nobody wants to lose," Ayala said. "Everybody tries to give 100 percent in the most important time of the game, when you have to keep your mind really focused. You have to get the key outs or [make the] key play or the key swing that makes the difference in the game. With this team, we've got great players and in all these games we think somebody's going to do something for the win."
Saunders started things off by turning in his best game with Baltimore, holding Seattle to one run to keep pace with Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
The 31-year-old Saunders needed just 58 pitches to get through five innings and didn't allow a hit until a one-out homer to Gutierrez in the fourth. Saunders worked around a pair of singles in the sixth and took the mound for the eighth inning with 81 pitches, turning in his longest outing since going a full nine as a member of Arizona on an April 27 win at Miami.
"You can talk about all types of things in that game, there's a lot to talk about defensively all around," Showalter said, "but the whole conversation has to start with the effort Joe gave us."
Saunders is now 6-0 with a 0.94 ERA in his last seven starts in Seattle, with a lifetime mark of 2.12 in nine games at Safeco Field. Asked if perhaps he felt re-energized since coming to the Orioles in a late-August trade from Arizona, Saunders said, "Anytime you go from a team to a team that's really contending hard you kind of got to, in my mind, really kick it into another gear.
"And that's what I've tried to do, is really help the team do their thing and be a positive rather than a negative. For me, I come over here, do my part. You can't change who you are, you got to be same person but in the meantime step it up. And that's what I tried to do."
Hernandez matched him, striking out eight in the no-decision. The Orioles' lone run off King Felix came after Chris Davis reached on a fielder's choice and Mark Reynolds sent a pitch into left field that a hustling Davis -- running on the pitch -- was able to score on from first.