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Markakis seals walk-off win for Orioles

Markakis seals walk-off win for Orioles

BALTIMORE -- The box score won't show it, and when fans recount Tuesday's game, Kevin Millwood's performance will be largely overlooked for a glitzier part of the Orioles' 4-3, 10-inning victory, which was secured with Nick Markakis' walk-off RBI single and highlighted by Luke Scott's two-homer night.

But the Orioles' three-game-slide-snapping win over the Royals -- which tipped the scale just right for a 4-4 homestand -- belonged to Millwood's right arm, which churned out an impressive 120-pitch outing opposite Kansas City ace Zack Greinke, the American League's reigning Cy Young Award winner.

"It doesn't show up in his won-loss [column], but it certainly is a win in my book, the way [Millwood] pitched and what he showed," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

Still searching for his first win this season, Millwood (0-4) took a perfect game into the fifth inning and gutted out eight frames of three-run baseball before exiting to the much-deserved cheers and whistles generated by a cozy crowd of 9,715 at Camden Yards.

"He's done everything -- he's been all that and a bag of chips," Scott said of Millwood.

"He's kept [us] in ballgames to where we've had a chance to win. He's kept the score low. The only reason why he doesn't have four or five wins up there is because we haven't hit for him."

Tuesday night was no different in that department for Millwood, given that his mound counterpart was Greinke, who owned every batter not named Luke Scott. The Baltimore designated hitter's two homers were the lone blemish on the Kansas City ace's seven innings. In Millwood's nine starts, the Orioles have scored 15 runs while he's been on the hill, a stretch of 61 2/3 innings.

"You give a guy like that who's worked so hard for us the opportunity to try to win the game," Trembley said of leaving Millwood in for the game's first 24 outs. "He deserved it, he earned it, and like I said, he didn't get it in the book, but I think in everybody else's eyes, he's the reason we won the game.

"He doesn't fold. And the other guys are looking at you. You've got to back up your guy and you've got to send a message, and I think we've done that with Millwood and we'll continue to do that, because he's here for a reason."

Millwood retired the first 13 batters -- including four consecutive strikeouts at one point -- before yielding three runs on five singles in the fifth inning. They were the only scores the veteran allowed, as Millwood hunkered down, scattering 10 hits while picking up seven strikeouts over eight innings en route to his fifth quality start this season.

"You just want to stay in there as long as you can," Millwood said. "I knew I wasn't going to be able to give up any more runs [after the fifth], and I was able to do that."

And the Orioles were able to reward Millwood with a late-game comeback, devoid of only the elusive "W" next to his name.

"I feel kind of bad when a guy's pitched well, keeps us in the game and we're not quite able to pull it out for him at the end," said Corey Patterson, whose eighth-inning homer off reliever Blake Wood tied the game at 3.

But the shaving-cream pie that hit Millwood square in the face in the Orioles' clubhouse said it all: this one was for their starter.

Baltimore's 10th-inning rally got started when No. 9 batter Julio Lugo delivered a one-out single off reliever Bryan Bullington before Patterson walked to put the winning run in scoring position. The bases were loaded for Markakis when Cesar Izturis, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch-runner for Ty Wigginton, reached on an error by Bullington, who took the loss in his Royals debut.

"As a hitter, that's the type of situation you want to be in late in the game like that," Markakis said of his heroic at-bat.

"I wasn't going to hit a ground ball. I was going to hit something in the air, that was my approach. I got a good pitch to hit, I drove the ball and good things happened."

It was a welcome piece of timely hitting for the Orioles' underperforming offense, securing their fifth extra-innings win and improving the club to 7-7 in one-run games.

Chasing a run and down to their last five outs, Patterson sent the first pitch he saw from Wood over the center-field fence to tie the game at 3 and give way to bonus baseball. But the real star in regulation was unquestionably Scott, who single-handedly kept the Orioles' hope afloat against Greinke.

Kansas City's ace kept Baltimore's bats ineffective until the red-hot Scott opened the bottom of the fifth with a solo homer to right field. Scott took Greinke's 2-2 pitch 408 feet, and he also sent the first pitch he saw in the seventh over the right-center-field fence.

"When Luke gets locked in, he's one of the best hitters in the game. It doesn't matter who's pitching to him, he's going to hit the ball long and hard," Millwood said. "And that's kind of where he's at right now."

After hitting .177 with three homers and eight RBIs over his first 24 games, Scott is batting .455 (15-for-33) with six homers and 11 RBIs in his past nine games.

"He's about as good as I've seen him," a smiling Trembley said of Scott. "I hope he gets better."

The same continuing improvement would be helpful for the Orioles, who are 13-27 and let several games slip away on their eight-game homestand.

"We've lost a few games when we've given up the lead late in the game, and it's taken a toll on us," Scott said. "It's been difficult. It feels good to kind of do the same thing to someone else and have the ball roll in our favor for once."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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