BALTIMORE –- It was nearly midnight when Manny Machado finished off the Oakland Athletics. Thousands of fans stayed around to watch the Orioles longest game of the season, and they didn’t want to miss the fireworks display.
Just before the choreographed blasts came a real one, a two-run home run by Machado that gave the Orioles an 8-6 win before 36,784 at Oriole Park on Friday night.
“It was a long grinding game and we came out with the win,” Machado said.
“We needed this win, we needed this win to get us going. … We’re just glad we got it over with, however it was.”
It was four hours, 27 minutes, and featured lots of story lines.
Four ninth-inning hits against the normally infallible Zach Britton led to two runs and a 6-6 tie.
“That’s as good an inning as he’s had all year,” manager Buck Showalter said.
Two infield hits and a single just into right field gave Britton his second blown save after 24 consecutive saves. In both blown saves, the Orioles rescued him with a game-winning home run.
“They didn’t hit anything hard,” Britton said. “They hit some balls off the plate, some balls that we couldn't field. One of those days. That happens with the sinker, it's happened before and it's not going to be the last time.”
The Orioles (58-56) gained a game in the wild card race, and they’re 1 ½ games behind Los Angeles for the final spot.
“Every team now is in contention. The schedule that we have coming up now, it’s going to be tough. These are the games that are going to take us to where we need to be,” Machado said.
Davis, whose long seventh inning home run put the Orioles in front took a glance at the standings on the television in front of him.
“We know where we are. We’re not checking the standings in between innings, but we know where we stand right now. Every game’s important. We have to go out and focus for nine innings or 13 innings or how many innings it takes for us to get a win, and I think that’s where everybody’s focus is,” Davis said.
Rule 5 draft pick Jason Garcia (1-0), the Orioles’ seventh pitcher of the night, pitched a perfect 13th inning for the win.
Showalter was keeping T.J. McFarland for Saturday night, and hopes that many of those who worked Friday night will be able to pitch on consecutive nights.
“We will see how our pitching is tomorrow. It’s the way it goes. Too much talent and too much ebbs and flows to the season. We got some good baseball left in us. We got, what, 48 games left? I told you last year trying to finish off a good season is an eternity,” Showalter said.
Ubaldo Jimenez wasn’t sharp, allowing four runs on nine hits in five innings. He was fortunate that two innings ended with runners being thrown out at the plate.
Brad Mills, who was called up to start the game for Oakland (51-66) allowed Jones’ three-run homer in the fifth.
The Orioles’ bullpen was sharp, except for Britton, and Garcia, in just his second outing since missing nearly three months with shoulder tendinitis, experiences his first major league win.
“Every inning, you try to be ready. Whenever that phone rings, you kind of get on the edge of your seat. Every time that phone rang, I was ready to go in,” Garcia said.
In the 13th, Caleb Joseph doubled with one out off Drew Pomeranz (4-5), Oakland’s sixth pitcher. Pomeranz was removed from the game with tightness in his left forearm, and Aaron Brooks, scheduled to start Monday, gave up the home run to Machado, his 25th and second career game-ender, on his second pitch.
On July 10, Machado urged Jonathan Schoop to win the game before he could, and Schoop obliged with a ninth inning home run.
This time, it was Schoop’s chance to urge his friend on.
“Right before that, he told me everybody wants to go home let’s go and finish this off,” Machado said.
Jimenez watched for nearly three hours after he was removed.
“It was a great win. It was one of those wins at the end of the season where you look back and say, ‘That kind of win, that was the one that put us there,’” Jimenez said.
NOTES: Chris Bassit (1-4, 2.48) faces Miguel Gonzalez (9-8, 4.45) on Saturday night at 7:05 p.m. … Ron Johnson won his 285th game for Norfolk, a franchise record. … Davis’ home run was the eighth he’s hit on Eutaw Street, most in team history. It was his third this year, and the 85th he’s hit at Oriole Park, tying him with Cal Ripken for fifth most here.
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