Flock of Orioles battle for comeback win

Flock of Orioles battle for comeback win

ARLINGTON -- When a team is a season-low 34 games under .500 before the All-Star break, it'd be easy to call it quits after facing an early four-run deficit.

That didn't happen Thursday night.

The O's rallied with six unanswered runs, and Craig Tatum brought in the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk in the eighth to snap a three-game skid with a 6-4 win over the Rangers at the Ballpark in Arlington.

"These guys are cheering for each other," interim manager Juan Samuel said. "We've been falling behind, but these guys have been staying calm. They know that they can come back, and they proved that tonight."

The Rangers spurted out of the gates with a three-run second before adding another in the third off starter Jeremy Guthrie. Nelson Cruz and Michael Young tallied RBI singles, while Cruz came around to score on Guthrie's throwing error attempting to pick off Julio Borbon at first base. Josh Hamilton added a homer an inning later to extend the Rangers' lead.

But slowly and steadily, the O's chipped away at the deficit. Scott Moore started the rally off Rangers starter Tommy Hunter with a solo homer in the fifth and Felix Pie followed with a shot of his own to lead off the seventh.

"See the ball, hit the ball, you know?" Pie said. "In the last at-bat, he pitched to me inside. So I made the adjustment and hit the ball like that."

Added Samuel: "The game was close enough. We got a big boost with Scotty Moore on that home run, and Felix Pie. From there, it looked like we were a little more patient."

And after Corey Patterson closed the deficit to a run with an RBI single later in the frame, the stage was set for the Orioles' decisive eighth inning.

Baltimore sent the first five batters to the plate without recording an out, as Nick Markakis and Ty Wigginton started the rally with consecutive singles.

And after Adam Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Pie was hit by Rangers reliever Darren Oliver on an 0-2 pitch to tie the game at 4.

That's when Tatum forced the go-ahead, bases-loaded walk to put the O's on top for good.

"In the eighth inning, we just couldn't put them away," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "They took it away right there. Their bullpen came in and held us down."

Julio Lugo added an RBI single two batters later, pushing the lead to two, before the O's bullpen shut down the Rangers to snap their most recent losing streak.

"These guys are not giving up," Samuel said. "They're still going out there and swinging the bat. When you do that, good things are going to happen, like tonight. We're very happy that we've been able to come back in a lot of these games."

The comeback took Guthrie, who was tagged for the four early runs against the potent Rangers' lineup, off the hook. He lasted only 4 2/3 innings, giving up all four of Texas' runs on seven hits while walking five batters.

But perhaps the biggest play came in the fifth, when Guthrie loaded the bases without recording an out before forcing catcher Bengie Molina into a double play. After Guthrie gave way to reliever Mark Hendrickson, Justin Smoak lined out to Lugo to end the inning.

"When they got the bases loaded, I felt like I could, we could get a ground ball and a possible double play with the slow runner in Molina at the plate," Guthrie said. "We had a great turn. Tatum did a great job, especially getting clipped by [Ian] Kinsler at home plate, but still got the throw on line at first base."

The comeback served as a nice reprieve for Guthrie, who entering Thursday, had only received 19 runs of support over his past seven starts, a span in which he went 0-6.

"It's a great pitching effort and the bats were there," Guthrie said. "We had some great at-bats and fought against a guy that was throwing the ball very well. We got him out of the game and we were able to score some runs."

With the lead firmly in hand, the Orioles' bullpen silenced the Rangers' offense over the last two innings. Jason Berken worked a perfect eighth and Alfredo Simon worked the ninth to record his 11th save of the season.

"We had to keep going and playing the game inning-by-inning, pitch-by-pitch," Pie said. "We came back together."

Chris Cox is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.