BALTIMORE—Buck Showalter had few choices for a Wednesday night starter. He wanted Mike Wright to stay at Norfolk and last year’s Rule 5 draft choice Jason Garcia wasn’t really an option. Once he had to use Odrisamer Despaigne to rescue Zach Britton on Tuesday night, there was really only one way he could go.
That was Ubaldo Jimenez, who had been banished to the bullpen after a humiliating one-third of an inning start in Toronto when he allowed five runs to score.
Jimenez’s first outing in relief wasn’t inspiring He gave up five runs in 2 2/3 innings last Friday.
All that was forgotten by the time Jimenez finished his sixth inning, as he walked off with a start the Orioles sorely needed.
The Orioles ended up with a 7-2 win over the San Diego Padres before 23,785 at Oriole Park, and Jimenez gave up two runs on four hits, walking four and striking out seven.
“I just wanted to get the job done, for sure. There’s no more pressure than that. As a pitcher, I know how I was throwing before I got sent down to the bullpen. I was just trying to find a way to survive and get back on my feet,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez still has nearly a season-and-a-half remaining on his four-year, $50 million contract, and the Orioles want to get a return on that investment.
“Gave our bullpen a rest. We didn’t have many options down there tonight, so he delivered what we needed. It was good to see him go home and feel good about himself,” Showalter said.
Jimenez allowed a single to Travis Janikowski on his very first pitch. Two batters later, Janikowski scored on a single by Matt Kemp.
Eventually Jimenez got out of the inning, and retired the Padres (30-43) in order in the second.
He walked Travis Jankowski, who easily stole second, leading off the third, but no one else reached in the inning.
Jimenez (4-7) walked Brett Wallace and Christian Bethancourt with one out in the fourth, but again pitched out of trouble.
A second run scored in the fifth as the pesky Janikowski again led off with a single and stole second, scoring on Kemp’s single.
With two outs, Melvin Upton, Jr. hit a long drive to left that he thought was long gone, but it was ruled foul.
After a lengthy replay review, the call stood, and Upton struck out a pitch later.
Jimenez struck out the side in the sixth and left to a warm ovation, and it was something he heard.
“I did, I did. It’s always good. I know I’ve been in the Majors for almost nine years, so I know how things go. If you do good, they are going to be there for you,” Jimenez said.
Showalter didn’t commit to Jimenez starting again, but says that his spot in the rotation will come up twice before the All-Star break.
Mark Trumbo hit his 21st home run off Erik Johnson (0-3) to tie the score at 1 in the second. An inning later, the Orioles took a 2-1 lead when Adam Jones, who singled, took off for home when Jonathan Schoop tried for second base.
Jones took his cue from Bobby Dickerson, who was waving him home.
“I think just my aggression, how I run the bases,” Jones said. “I was coming hard, and as a baserunner you try and make the coaches make the difficult decision. If I slowed down a bit, he would have to stop me, but I didn’t slow down. Hey, good play. Just kept running.”
Matt Wieters’ single up the middle scored Trumbo, who had a leadoff double in the fourth.
The Orioles (41-30) took a 6-2 lead in the fifth when Ryan Flaherty led off with his third home run of the year. After they loaded the bases, Carlos Villanueva loaded the bases hit Chris Davis with a pitch to score Jones.
Initially, Jones appeared to score on a wild pitch, but the Orioles challenged the call and swiftly won the challenge.
Wieters’ sacrifice fly gave the Orioles a 6-2 lead.
Hyun Soo Kim’s RBI single in the sixth gave the Orioles their final run.
Brad Brach lowered his ERA to 1.11 with two perfect innings, and Zach Britton, who allowed three runs on Tuesday night, worked a scoreless ninth to close out the Orioles’ 1,000th win at Oriole Park.
NOTES: Manny Machado returns from his four-game suspension on Friday. The Orioles were 2-2 in his absence. … Darren O’Day (hamstring) will throw off the half-mound on Thursday. … Vance Worley (groin) will pitch a rehab game at Bowie on Saturday. … After Thursday’s off day, the Orioles open a four-game series with Tampa Bay on Friday. Matt Moore (3-4, 4.90) faces Yovani Gallardo (2-1, 6.26).