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Alvarez lifts O's to series win in last-minute start

Special to MLB.com

BALTIMORE -- About 10 minutes before the start of Sunday's game, Pedro Alvarez found out he was playing third base for the Orioles. Starting third baseman Danny Valencia had just been scratched with a hamstring issue, and with a short bench, Orioles manager Buck Showalter chose Alvarez to man the hot corner.

"Honestly, it was fine. You've got to be ready for stuff like that to happen," Alvarez said. "Obviously, it doesn't happen very often. I don't know, it was weird. I didn't skip a beat."

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BALTIMORE -- About 10 minutes before the start of Sunday's game, Pedro Alvarez found out he was playing third base for the Orioles. Starting third baseman Danny Valencia had just been scratched with a hamstring issue, and with a short bench, Orioles manager Buck Showalter chose Alvarez to man the hot corner.

"Honestly, it was fine. You've got to be ready for stuff like that to happen," Alvarez said. "Obviously, it doesn't happen very often. I don't know, it was weird. I didn't skip a beat."

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Alvarez hit two home runs to spark the Orioles to a 5-3 win over the Tigers on Sunday at Camden Yards. Trey Mancini hit a leadoff home run to back Kevin Gausman's strong start as the Orioles claimed their second series win of the season and their first at home.

Video: DET@BAL: Mancini hits a solo homer in the 1st inning

Mancini, starting at first base with Chris Davis out of the lineup for the second straight game, hit his first career leadoff home run off Daniel Norris. It was the first leadoff home run of the season for the Orioles.

Alvarez, who rarely starts against left-handers and plays third base even more rarely, slugged a two-run homer off Norris in his first at-bat of the second inning. It was Alvarez's first start at third since May 28, 2016.

"We've been working at it every day," Alvarez said. "It's no surprise to me. I was ready for the opportunity. It came. There's been a lot of shifting around. It's always fun to be able to go out and be able to play. I'm just glad for the opportunity. I hope to get more, more chances."

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Video: DET@BAL: O'Day pitches a perfect 9th to earn the save

Alvarez's first homer's exit velocity was measured by Statcast™ at 114.2 mph, making it the third-hardest-hit home run by a lefty hitter off a southpaw since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015. Padres outfielder Franchy Cordero's 116.9-mph blast off Mets lefty Jason Vargas on Saturday tops the list.

With the Orioles clinging to a 4-3 lead in the eighth, Alvarez hit his second home run of the game and sixth of the season. Sunday marked Alvarez's second multi-homer game in three days, as he also homered twice against the Tigers in the Orioles' 6-0 win on Friday. Showalter didn't have many options, and it didn't take him long to decide on Alvarez.

Video: DET@BAL: Alvarez hits his second homer of the game

"I told Pete, 'You're playing on house money here, let's go,'" Showalter said. "When I got out there, Pete was bouncing around like a guy on his first day in Little League."

Gausman pitched 5 2/3 innings, allowing a run on five hits. Brad Brach gave up two runs in the seventh. Mychal Givens worked a perfect eighth, and Darren O'Day pitched the ninth for his second save. The starter was pleased with his temporary third baseman.

"He's got a hot bat right now. I think it's tough what he was able to do today, going over to the hot corner," Gausman said. "He had a lot of ground balls, too, and did a pretty good job of staying back on some and going to get other ones. When you can play first for us and play third and hit two homers every time he plays, it's good -- it's a good combo."

Video: DET@BAL: Brach strikes out Hicks to escape a jam

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
With the Orioles leading 3-0 in the third Tigers outfielder Victor Reyes, whom Detroit selected with the top pick in the 2017 Rule 5 Draft, rounded third base on Jose Iglesias' double to right. Third-base coach Dave Clark initially waved Reyes in, then belatedly stopped him. Reyes headed back to third, and was thrown out by catcher Caleb Joseph, helping to stop a nascent rally.

Video: DET@BAL: Joseph nabs Reyes going back to third

SOUND SMART
For the third time in four games, Orioles second baseman Jace Peterson stole third base. On Thursday and Friday, Peterson, who entered play with 24 stolen bases in his big league career, took third when the Rays and Tigers were shifted and third base was uncovered. On Sunday, Peterson and Manny Machado pulled off a double steal in the seventh inning.

VALENCIA SCRATCHED
Showalter said that Valencia was scratched after feeling the hamstring tighten while warming up. The team did not specify which leg was bothering Valencia, but he was sidelined by a left hamstring injury while with Oakland in 2016.

"He had this before and tried to play with it and ended up hurting it for an extended period of time," Showalter said.

Showalter said that he didn't expect Valencia's injury to be serious enough to land him on the disabled list.

HE SAID IT
"No. I had no idea. I didn't know until Pedro threw me the ball, then I was like, 'Hey, what's up?'" -- Gausman, on seeing Alvarez instead of Valencia at third base before throwing the game's first pitch

Video: DET@BAL: Alvarez crushes a two-run homer in the 2nd

UP NEXT
The Orioles begin a six-game West Coast swing with the first of three games against the Angels in Anaheim on Tuesday. Alex Cobb (0-3, 13.11) starts for the Orioles, who lost four of six to the Angels last season. Game time at Angels Stadium is 10:07 p.m. Right-hander Nick Tropeano will start for the Angels.

Rich Dubroff is a contributor to MLB.com based in Baltimore.

Baltimore Orioles, Pedro Alvarez, Trey Mancini