BALTIMORE -- Jonathan Schoop's go-ahead RBI single in the bottom of the eighth inning led the first-place Orioles to a 3-2 victory over the Angels on Saturday at Camden Yards. Baltimore stopped the Halos' win streak at four, evening this three-game series, the last before the All-Star break.
The Orioles, who also got another home run from Mark Trumbo, now have a two-game lead over the Red Sox and Blue Jays in the American League East, guaranteeing they will end the first half in first place.
"It doesn't matter at all, right?" O's manager Buck Showalter said. "Just makes our guys and our fans be able to look at the paper or the internet, whatever it is, a little more fondly. I might even look at it. Obviously it's the end game we're after, but I think the reality will come back to you when you realize that, like I said earlier today, that if the season ends right now, three teams in the American League East are in [the playoffs] and two of them are a streak away from being right back in it."
Manny Machado led off the eighth with a single off Angels reliever Joe Smith, and one out later, Chris Davis singled, sending Machado to third. Schoop, who already had extended his on-base streak to 20 games, lined a single to center to put the Orioles in front for good. Zach Britton finished things off with his 26th save, capping four scoreless innings for the Baltimore bullpen in relief of Yovani Gallardo.
Over six strong innings, Angels starter Nick Tropeano struck out eight and allowed only one run, on Trumbo's Major League-leading 28th homer in the second. But in the seventh, Baltimore put runners on second and third with one out against reliever JC Ramirez. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons saved the Angels' one-run lead temporarily with an incredible running catch on Matt Wieters' pop fly to shallow center, but before Smith could throw his first pitch to Adam Jones, he dropped the ball while standing on the pitching rubber. That resulted in a game-tying balk that scored Schoop.
"That's the most embarrassing moment I've ever had on a baseball field. It was 100 percent my fault," Smith said.
The Angels took a 2-1 lead in the sixth on Daniel Nava's two-run single off the right-field wall against Gallardo, who didn't retire any of the four batters he faced in that frame. Reliever Mychal Givens got the Orioles out of the jam without any further damage.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Tropeano impresses: Trumbo's homer was among the only mistake made by Tropeano. The right-hander was making his second start since missing a month with shoulder tightness, but he held the American League's highest scoring team in check. Tropeano threw six innings, allowing five hits and one run while walking one and striking out eight -- his third highest total in 23 career starts.
"I thought my fastball command was a little better than it was last time," Tropeano said. "I wasn't nibbling as much, I was letting the fielders do their thing and with Trumbo I kind of just fell into that 3-1 count and just fed him that fastball. Really, I felt like that was my only true mistake all night. Other than that, I felt good. I tried to mix it up with the hitters, kept them off balance, got some early swings and put them away when I needed to.
Trumbo goes deep again: When Trumbo was a member of the Angels in 2013, he set a career high with 34 home runs, a number that is now in significant jeopardy. After Saturday's blast against the Halos, he is now only seven away from passing that mark, with one game still to go before the All-Star break. Trumbo is closing the first half with a bang, going deep eight times over his past 16 games, and nearly added another with a high drive to the warning track in the sixth. In Orioles history, the only players with more pre-break homers are Davis (37 in 2013) and Brady Anderson (30 in 1996).
"Twenty-eight homers and it's just been consistent," O's shortstop J.J. Hardy said of Trumbo's performance. "And his average [.287] is up there, too. It's not like he's home run or nothing. He's been very good."
Givens saves the day: After Gallardo exited with two on and nobody out and the Orioles now down, 2-1, Givens entered in a crucial spot. His outing began inauspiciously, with a wild pitch that advanced a runner to second and a walk to load the bases. But Givens was able to escape trouble through a short fly ball and Jett Bandy's double-play grounder before staying in to fire a scoreless seventh.
Simmons shines in the field: With the Angels clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh inning and the Orioles threatening with two on and one out, Simmons made an over-the-shoulder catch to rob Wieters of a base hit. Wieters blooped an 0-1 pitch from Ramirez into shallow center, before Simmons covered 111 feet to make the catch. According to Statcast™, Simmons had a 97.8 percent efficiency route and topped out at 18.7 miles per hour.
"Balks happen, and obviously it's an inopportune time for that to happen, but they occasionally happen." -- Angels manager Mike Scioscia on Smith's balk
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
Trumbo's homer gave the Orioles 135 this season, the most in club history (since 1954) before the All-Star break. The previous record was 134, set by the 1996 team that eventually made it to the AL Championship Series.
Angels: The Angels will look to secure a winning record on their 10-game road trip, as Tim Lincecum (1-2, 7.50 ERA) starts the series finale against the Orioles at 10:35 a.m. PT. Lincecum allowed 10 hits and five runs in 4 2/3 innings in his last start on July 5 against the Rays but did not factor in the decision. The right-hander has thrown at least five innings just once through four starts this season.
Orioles: Baltimore can finish the first half on a high note and win the three-game series against the Angels by claiming Sunday's finale, which is set for 1:35 p.m. ET. Right-hander Chris Tillman (11-2, 3.55 ERA) will take the mound for the O's. After three straight subpar starts, Tillman righted the ship on Tuesday at Dodgers Stadium, allowing one run over seven innings.
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