BALTIMORE --- There was one welcome sign for the Orioles on Monday, and another that wasn’t welcome at all.
Steve Pearce hit a two-run home run in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a rare come-from-behind win.
Then, moments later, J.J. Hardy was pulled from the game after seven innings with back tightness. Manager Buck Showalter walked onto the field after the inning to check on Hardy, and the shortstop walked off. He was hampered last year with a back injury that hampered his power.
The 4-3 win over the Houston Astros before 28,909 at Oriole Park came on another busy day. There weren’t any personnel moves, but Brian Matusz got the expected news. He was suspended eight games for having a foreign substance on his arm in Saturday night’s game in Miami. He will appeal.
Hardy said that he didn’t expect his back to be an important issue.
“I think just kind of protecting it a little bit,” Hardy said. He said his hotel room bed in Miami bothered it.
“Buck saw it and he just wanted to get me out of there.”
Right after Pearce homered, Hardy singled and on the bases, he looked bothered.
“I was going at 100 percent of what I had and I think he saw it and he just took me out. I think it was the way I was running. If anything, I was just kind of protecting my back and apparently it didn’t' look very good. It was probably the right decision, but I didn't want to come out of the game. But I'd say it already feels better than it did there in the seventh,” Hardy said.
There haven’t been many big comeback wins for the Orioles this season, certainly not as many as in the past three years.
In the two losses in Miami this weekend, the Orioles scored just two runs in 22 innings. Pearce’s home run dealt Dallas Keuchel (6-1) his first loss since Aug. 21, 2014. Keuchel allowed two home runs, and had only given up one in his first nine starts.
“We just capitalized on his mistakes and we hadn’t been doing that all year. Hopefully today is the start of something. We have a good team, we have a good hitting team. We just haven’t had consistency all year. Right now is a good time to get hot as any,” Pearce said.
Pearce homered in the first two games of the season, then went 22 games without a homer. In his last nine games, he’s hit three.
Wei-Yin Chen allowed 11 hits, one short of his career high in five innings. He allowed the first two hitters to reach base on singles in both the first and second.
George Springer led off the third with his seventh home run.
In the fifth, Houston had four singles and scored two runs on Chris Carter’s single to right.
It was Chen’s second shortest start of the season.
“All I can say is there were a lot of hits today, some were hard hits, some were not,” Chen said through his translator.
Keuchel allowed a leadoff single to Delmon Young in the second, and with two outs, Caleb Joseph hit his seventh home run, a two-run shot to left field, his seventh.
Manny Machado singled with one out in the third, but was quickly erased when Jimmy Paredes hit into a double play. Keuchel retired 11 straight until Young singled with one out in the seventh. Pearce lined a home run to center field on the first pitch, his fifth.
Brad Brach (2-0) pitched two perfect innings in relief of Chen for the win. Oliver Drake, in his second major league appearance, threw a perfect eighth, and Zach Britton worked a spotless ninth for his 11th save.
Last year, Brach was often able to get an opportunistic win.
“This was the kind of the time last year when we made our run. It starts to get a little bit hotter. Our hitters will get going here. Yeah, I don’t know what it is. I just seem to be in the right place at the right time a lot, so hopefully I can continue doing that,” Brach said.
Showalter is hoping there are more exciting wins coming up.
“I hope so. Even if you do it one day, the momentum is always the next day's pitcher. To beat a good pitcher like [Keuchel] it's really a challenge. But in order to beat him, you have to pitch well. That's what our four guys did,” Showalter said.
NOTES: Scott Feldman (3-4, 5.17) faces Chris Tillman (2-5, 6.10) on Tuesday night. … The Orioles hadn’t played at home on Memorial Day since 2009. … Dylan Bundy has been scratched from Tuesday’s start at Bowie because of shoulder tightness.