BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado knocked in the tiebreaking run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, then Zach Britton set an American League record with his 55th consecutive save to lift the Orioles to a thrilling 9-7 victory over the Astros on Sunday afternoon. The win snapped Baltimore's eight-game
BALTIMORE -- Manny Machado knocked in the tiebreaking run with a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning, then Zach Britton set an American League record with his 55th consecutive save to lift the Orioles to a thrilling 9-7 victory over the Astros on Sunday afternoon. The win snapped Baltimore's eight-game losing streak against Houston, including a five-game skid at Camden Yards.
In his first save chance since returning from a left forearm strain, Britton struck out the first two batters before walking Marwin Gonzalez, but forced pinch-hitter George Springer to ground out to short to record the save. Britton moved into sole possession of second place in Major League history, passing Tom Gordon and trailing only Eric Gagne, who converted 84 in a row.
• Britton sets AL mark with 55th straight save
"It's so hard to simulate that type of emotional situation in a rehab start or even out of the 'pen in a non-save situation," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's just completely different adrenaline. He looked like he was in his element there, finally. It's been a long haul to get back there. He was the last real piece for us to be able to get back and really be able to put what I think is a really good bullpen, if we can get deeper into games."
The Astros trailed by three entering the sixth, but a three-run blast by Norichika Aoki tied the game before a sacrifice fly by Josh Reddick gave Houston a 7-6 lead. However, in the seventh, Mark Trumbo answered with a leadoff homer to knot the game at 7.
The Orioles got off to a quick 3-0 lead in the second on a hit batsman, a double play and an Adam Jones single. In the third, Jose Altuve (4-for-5, three RBIs) launched a three-run blast to tie the game and extend his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games, but the Orioles tacked on another in the bottom half on a Trey Mancini single.
• Altuve rolling toward 2nd straight batting title
"Well, we won the series, which is the positive side of things. Obviously today, you know both offenses swung the bat pretty well," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "I liked the big innings that we had coming back from their two big innings. They just had an extra one and we didn't."
In the fifth, the O's added two runs to go up 6-3 on a Chris Davis sacrifice fly and an RBI double by Mancini, chasing Lance McCullers after just 4 2/3 innings. He allowed six runs on nine hits in his third straight start of fewer than five innings.
"[McCullers is] pitching careful a little bit," Hinch said. "I think he's trying to be a little perfect and falling behind a little bit and if he's not throwing his fastball for a strike, where he wants to, they can either disregard it or put a good swing on it. He's going through a rut right now and things aren't going his way. He's not getting beat around the ballpark as much as he is creating some havoc for himself."
Orioles starter Dylan Bundy went 5 1/3 and gave up seven earned runs on eight hits, including a pair of three-run home runs.
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Trumbo ties it up: Trumbo led off the seventh with the Orioles trailing by one. After falling behind 1-2 in the count, Trumbo unleashed a 106.1-mph solo home run, according to Statcast™, that just stayed fair down the left-field line to tie the game at 7.
"This lineup from one to nine, we can do damage," said Jonathan Schoop, who plated an insurance run in the eighth with an RBI single. "Everybody believes in everybody."
Aoki more than A-OK: The Orioles seemed in control in the sixth with a 6-3 lead before Aoki belted a three-run home run to right field. It traveled a projected 356 feet, according to Statcast™, and marked the second time the Astros climbed back from a three-run deficit.
"[Aoki's day was] beautiful because I have seen him working really hard all year long," Altuve said. "I mean, I'm happy every time that one of my teammates has a really good game and especially Aoki, because he's a really nice guy."
The Astros put two runners on right after the homer with a walk and single before Reddick's sacrifice fly gave Houston its first lead.
"He's fit his role, whether we've asked him to play every day or be a role player here lately. He hasn't gotten a lot of opportunities, but he's come off the bench and swung the bat well. Obviously he drove the ball today with two extra-base hits. He's come up big whenever I've been able to get him in there. It's a tough lineup to crack and so when he gets in there, to be able to contribute is exactly why he's on our club." -- Hinch, on Aoki's 3-for-4 day
"You don't want to get too far out in the standings. I understand where we are right now. You don't want to watch the standings, but it's the reality of where we are. Where we are in the standings dictates kind of where we go as an organization for a lot of the older guys in the locker room. These guys, they're fighting to win some games so we can keep this group together." -- Britton, on the Orioles' potential trades
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Jones, who posted a four-hit game, collected an RBI single in the second to give him sole possession of seventh place on the Orioles' all-time hit list with 1,548, passing Nick Markakis.
Astros: Houston travels to Philadelphia for a three-game series against the Phillies, beginning Monday at 6:05 p.m. CT at Citizens Bank Park. Brad Peacock will take the mound for Houston and will be looking to pick up his seventh win in nine starts. In his past eight outings, the righty has a 2.70 ERA. On the road, he has a 2.62 ERA while holding batters to a .211 average.
Orioles: Hoping to better position themselves for one of the American League Wild Card spots, the O's begin a three-game series against the Rays on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field. Kevin Gausman (6-7, 6.11 ERA) will start after allowing one run and striking out eight over six innings in his previous outing. The right-hander threw seven scoreless innings when he last faced the Rays in a July 2 win.
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Kyle Melnick is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Orioles on Sunday.
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com and covered the Astros on Sunday.