BALTIMORE -- An injury-shortened start for Daniel Norris and early exit for Jose Cabrera couldn't stop the tenacious Tigers, but the long ball at Camden Yards and the veterans of the Orioles' bullpen finally did. Pedro Alvarez homered twice and Brad Brach halted a pair of Detroit comeback attempts with inning-ending strikeouts, sending the Tigers to a 5-3 loss in the rubber match of a three-game series Sunday at Camden Yards.
The defeat left the Tigers with a 2-4 road trip to Pittsburgh and Baltimore, with a quick three-game homestand vs. Tampa Bay coming up before they head back on the road to Kansas City and Texas. But it reinforced their mindset they're trying to instill, that they're not out of a game until the final out.
"We got back in the game and had a chance," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "That's all you can ask."
With the way the game was trending, it was more than might have been expected. Norris gave up three runs on a pair of homers before leaving with one out in the third inning with left groin tightness. That left Alex Wilson, a veteran victimized by home runs this season, tasked with providing long relief.
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Wilson delivered 2 2/3 scoreless innings on one hit. Meanwhile, a John Hicks solo shot off O's starter Kevin Gausman gave the Tigers life beyond the loud cheering that came from family and friends who made the trip from Hicks' hometown in Virginia.
Cabrera, who provided five RBIs in Saturday's Tigers win, left the game in the fifth inning with a left biceps spasm. On came Niko Goodrum, who followed Jeimer Candelario's RBI double in the seventh inning with one of his own to whittle Detroit's deficit to 4-3.
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Twice, the Tigers had chances to change the lead. Hicks' return to the batter's box helped chase Gausman from the game after the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth. On came Brach, his earliest appearance in a game in two years revealing how seriously O's manager Buck Showalter took the threat.
Brach induced Hicks to chase a 94-mph fastball off the plate for an inning-ending strikeout.
"I have to do something to get the ball in play there," Hicks said. "That was a big spot in the game. If I can come up with a hit there, that changes the whole game."
Craig Gentry's sixth-inning RBI single off Buck Farmer eventually stood as the deciding run. Brach teetered through the seventh before fanning Nicholas Castellanos with the tying run in scoring position. Castellanos' 0-for-4 afternoon ended a six-game hitting streak, during which he batted 13-for-26 (.500).
Alvarez was a last-minute addition to the Orioles' lineup, making a rare start at third base, but he delivered a two-run home run off Norris in the second inning. Alvarez's eighth-inning solo shot was the first home run allowed this season by Joe Jimenez, who recorded four outs in the Tigers' win on Saturday night.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Red light, green light: The Tigers had a second-inning scoring chance thwarted by a mixup at third base. Rookie Victor Reyes, making a spot start Sunday with Leonys Martin off, took off from first on Jose Iglesias' double and initially slowed on third-base coach Dave Clark's stop sign. He ran through the bag, then stopped down the third-base line and tried to retreat. O's catcher Caleb Joseph collected the relay throw with enough time to fire to third base and retire Reyes scrambling back.
"He'll learn from it," Clark said.
Alvarez's second-inning homer off Norris, a 432-foot drive to center, had a 114.2-mph exit velocity, the third-highest by a left-handed hitter off a left-handed pitcher since Statcast™ began tracking in 2015. The second-hardest lefty-lefty homer was also off Norris, a 114.9-mph drive from Texas' Joey Gallo last May 19.
The Tigers return home for a brief three-game homestand against the Rays. Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 7.91) will try to shake off his recent struggles when he starts Monday's series opener at 7:10 p.m. ET opposite Jake Faria (1-1, 6.33).