Wild finish in 12th gives Orioles comeback victory

Lough scores game-winner on wild pitch; Cruz hits tying grand slam

Wild finish in 12th gives Orioles comeback victory

BALTIMORE -- It was a wild Orioles game on Wednesday, with extra innings, a rain delay and a game-tying, two-out grand slam by Nelson Cruz in the bottom of the eighth inning. So it was only fitting it would end on something equally unusual: a walk-off wild pitch.

With no outs and Steve Pearce up, White Sox reliever Daniel Webb's first pitch skipped past catcher Tyler Flowers, scoring pinch-runner David Lough to grant the O's an improbable 5-4, 12-inning win.

"That's our second walk-off win against these guys," said Lough of an Orioles club that has won three consecutive series and scored 10 runs during the series in the eighth and ninth innings. "They're a good team. Give credit to them and their pitching staff for holding us. It's good to get these wins and keep rolling with it."

The game, halted by rain for one hour and nine minutes, was deadlocked at 4 after Cruz's homer, and the O's finally got things going on Nick Hundley's leadoff walk against Webb. Lough advanced to third base on Nick Markakis' ball to the gap, slipping as he rounded the bag but able to scurry back in time.

"It seems like Nicky gets the hit that sets up things all the time," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Markakis, who went 4-for-6. "He's always in the middle of things."

White Sox manager Robin Ventura went out to briefly argue that third-base coach Bobby Dickerson touched Lough on the play, which is non-reviewable, but it was to no avail. And once Pearce stepped in, Webb uncorked a wild pitch that brought second-place Baltimore (41-36) to within 1 1/2 games of Toronto in the American League East standings.

The O's, who emptied their bullpen except for lefty T.J. McFarland, tied a season high by using seven pitchers and did not allow a run after starter Ubaldo Jimenez exited after 6 1/3 innings.

And Cruz singlehandedly made sure Jimenez wouldn't be on the hook for a defeat. Robbed of a homer in his first at-bat, Cruz made sure his next attempt didn't miss in sending White Sox reliever Javy Guerra's 2-1 four-seam fastball off the right-field railing for a huge two-out knock.

"It feels good," said Cruz, who became the first player in club history to ground into a double play twice and hit a grand slam in the same game.

"I think we battled," said Cruz. "I think in the last three games, we showed that no matter what the score, we can be able to tie the game and win the game. I think we showed a lot of heart from the whole group of guys we have here."

Cruz's homer, which sent the crowd to its feet chanting "Cruuzz", was his 24th, and brought his RBI total to an incredible 64. It also put the Orioles on the board after seven innings of listless offense.

"That's a big time clutch hit right there, as big as it gets," Lough said of Cruz. "That's who we want at the plate because he leads this team. You see what he's capable of doing and the numbers he's put up. He's a special player."

Baltimore, which didn't have an at-bat with runners in scoring position until two outs into the seventh inning, finally chased White Sox starter Hector Noesi from the game after a pair of singles from Hundley and Markakis in the eighth. After Zach Putnam recorded a pair of flyouts, Ventura brought on Scott Downs to face Chris Davis, who worked a nine-pitch walk to load the bases for Cruz.

"Hector threw a great game and we just couldn't hold on to it," Ventura said of watching his bullpen crumble in the team's sixth loss in seven games. "We've got to be able to be better in the end."

Jimenez, who turned in his longest outing since May 13, showed signs of improvement in allowing four runs on eight hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings.

The right-hander, who needed just 38 pitches to get through three innings, allowed a solo homer to White Sox rookie Jose Abreu to start the fourth. Chicago extended its lead to two on Adam Eaton's one-out triple into right-center field in the fifth, which scored Alejandro De Aza, who led off with a walk.  

In the seventh, Flowers hit a two-run single and was called safe second base, but following a challenge the call was overturned and Flowers was out. With the White Sox lead extended to 4-0, Jimenez exited the game.

"Overall, I think it was a great team effort," Cruz said. "The bullpen came up and [threw] the ball amazing and Ubaldo, it looks like he is in a groove now, so it's nice to see that type of performance from him."

Brad Brach recorded the next two outs and Darren O'Day tossed a scoreless eighth inning before handing the ball off to closer Zach Britton, who pitched around a two-out walk in the ninth to keep the game tied at 4.

Lefty Brian Matusz came on after right-hander Ryan Webb recorded four outs to end the top of the 11th inning and pitched out of a jam in the 12th. Eaton started things off with a leadoff double down the third-base line but Matusz recorded the next two outs. He issued an intentional walk to Abreu before exiting in favor of righty Tommy Hunter, who struck out pinch-hitter Paul Konerko.

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