Clutch in a pinch: Paredes lifts O's to Game 1 walk-off

Clutch in a pinch: Paredes lifts O's to Game 1 walk-off

BALTIMORE -- In the wake of losing first baseman Chris Davis to a 25-game suspension, Orioles manager Buck Showalter made it clear that the team was going to have to rely on other guys to step up.

On Friday afternoon, it was Jimmy Paredes. The pinch-hitter delivered a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the 11th inning to give the first-place O's a 2-1 walk-off win over the Yankees in Game 1 of a doubleheader. The victory whittled the Orioles' magic number to clinch the American League East to seven and kept the Yankees in third place behind Toronto.

Was Paredes' hit the kind of lift the O's needed?

"Of course, of course -- to try to underplay [the Davis suspension] wouldn't be completely frank about it," manager Buck Showalter said. "But I think everybody's still kind of putting their arms around it. Like I said before, we've had a lot of challenges, some of them self-inflicted, and you've got to fight your way through it. We did that today with the pitching, just like they did."

The O's 11th-inning rally got started when Yankees reliever Adam Warren issued a leadoff walk to Nelson Cruz, and one out later, J.J. Hardy was hit by a pitch. After Kelly Johnson struck out, pinch-hitter Steve Clevenger worked a walk to load the bases for Paredes. Batting in place of Jonathan Schoop, Paredes hit a liner to right field to finally put Baltimore on the board and set up a dog pile of celebratory teammates to greet him at home plate.

"I can't replace Chris Davis," Paredes said. "I can't say this team does not need Chris Davis -- he is a tremendous player and a great teammate, and I am sorry this happened, and we will miss him. Any team would want to have a player like Chris Davis in their lineup.

"It's really sad that something like this happened to one of our teammates. I was brought in to get the job done in a situation like today, and we will do our best to pick the team up until he returns."

The Yankees scored their first run in the top of the inning on Chris Young's two-out homer off reliever Brad Brach. Brach was preceded by scoreless innings from relievers Zach Britton, Darren O'Day and Andrew Miller, along with seven impressive frames from starter Kevin Gausman.

"He was really good," Showalter said of Gausman, who tied a career high with seven strikeouts. "He had to be, because [Yankees starter Brandon] McCarthy was good, too."

The Orioles (87-59) had just three singles over McCarthy's seven innings -- two from Alejandro De Aza -- before Johnson became the first to touch second base with a leadoff eight-inning double that forced Yanks manager Joe Girardi to go to his bullpen.

The O's put runners on the corners after that, catching a break when Nick Hundley dropped down a bunt and Yanks first baseman Mark Teixeira's throw to third was off the mark. After No. 9 batter Schoop struck out, Nick Markakis hit one to second baseman Stephen Drew, who threw across the diamond to pick off Johnson at third. De Aza worked a two-out walk off reliever Dellin Betances, but Adam Jones struck out to leave the bases loaded and the game scoreless until the 11th.

Gausman, who allowed seven hits and two walks, got to watch all of the 11th-inning action unfold from the dugout.

"It's fun," said the 23-year-old right-hander, who picked off Antoan Richardson to end his afternoon. "It seems like right now whoever you put up there -- Clevenger's going to walk and then you pinch-hit Jimmy right there and it's the winning base hit -- everything's just kind of clicking right now. It's pretty fun to watch."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for 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.