Jones drops perfect bunt for walk-off in extras

Jones drops perfect bunt for walk-off in extras

BALTIMORE -- Several innings prior to his fateful 11th-inning at-bat, Adam Jones stood on third base and thought it necessary to engage in a little gamesmanship with Mariners infielder Jose Lopez.

"[I] said, 'I'm not going to bunt on you. I'm not going to bunt this series,'" said Jones of the exchange. "Hey, he moved back."

Jones and the O's took another leap forward.

Even for a resurgent Orioles team -- now 10-4 under new manager Buck Showalter -- that keeps finding new ways to win, Monday's 5-4 walk-off victory was unique. With two outs and Nick Markakis 90 feet away, Jones squared up on Mariners reliever Sean White's 1-0 pitch, dribbling the ball down the third-base line to score Markakis and steal a series-opening victory in front of 12,375 at Camden Yards.

"It was unbelievable," said Orioles starter Brad Bergesen of Jones' bunt. "I don't know if I've ever seen a game won in that style before. It took a lot of guts, and he was able to make it happen."

Markakis opened the inning with a double, the 200th of his career, down the left-field line and advanced to third on Ty Wigginton's groundout. Corey Patterson's infield grounder to shortstop Jack Wilson kept Markakis firmly entrenched on third, leaving the fate of the game in Jones' hands.

"I love it," said Showalter of his outfielder's decision to square up. "I think it's a great play. We need 90 feet there and there's a lot of ways to get it.

"You've got good players making good decisions."

It's a common thread under Showalter, who has the Orioles playing with a newfound confidence and conviction. Monday's win improves Baltimore to 7-1 at home under Showalter and is its fourth consecutive series-opening win.

"You bring somebody in who has had some experience, who has had some success at this level; that's instant respect," said reliever Mark Hendrickson who bailed Bergesen out of a one-out, bases-loaded jam in the sixth. "There might be some fear factor involved in that which is good, because sometimes when you have a young team that's what you need. And obviously that's showed in our play."

Down a run heading into the bottom of the 10th inning, Luke Scott legged out an infield single off Seattle closer David Aardsma and Jones worked a walk to put the winning run aboard. Felix Pie's sacrifice bunt, which television replays show he beat out, moved the pair over for Matt Wieters, who was issued an intentional walk. The blown call on Pie proved pivotal following Julio Lugo's game-tying walk, when Brian Roberts ended the threat on a grounder to leave the bases loaded.

"There are a lot of situations during a game when you can make [an umpire's call] not matter," Showalter said. "We had three go against us tonight that we overcame."

The O's also overcame another shaky outing from closer Alfredo Simon, who allowed a one-out solo homer to Adam Moore to give the Mariners a 4-3 edge in the 10th. Simon has now allowed six homers in his past 10 outings sparking questions of whether the converted Triple-A starter can close out games for Baltimore.

Fortunately, the rest of the O's 'pen sparkled. Without two of their best relievers, Baltimore put together an impressive bullpen performance. It started with Hendrickson getting Ichiro Suzuki on a sharp liner to Wigginton and striking out Chone Figgins to leave the bases juiced in the sixth.

"It was huge," said Bergesen of Hendrickson's performance. "Mark came up very, very big right there. That could have been completely different if he didn't come in and shut the door. He did a phenomenal job."

Hendrickson recorded the first out of the seventh before Showalter inserted right-hander Koji Uehara, who struck out the side. Uehara, who entered the game allowing just one earned run in the previous 14 2/3 innings, allowed a leadoff double to Casey Kotchman in the eighth and Moore's sacrifice bunt squirted through the infield -- with Uehara coming off the wrong side of the mound -- to put runners on the corners.

But Uehara rebounded to strike out Michael Saunders on a 12-pitch at-bat and fanned No. 9 batter Josh Wilson to bring on lefty Michael Gonzalez. He got Ichiro on a checked swing to send the crowd to their feet and keep the score deadlocked.

"Anybody's who's been watching us since Buck's been here sees we've been kind of resilient," Hendrickson said. "We've stayed in games and had chances to win. Ultimately, over the course of the season that's what we've got to do."

To his credit, Bergesen kept the O's in the game early. Coming off Wednesday's two-hit, complete-game performance in Cleveland, the right-hander allowed three earned runs on nine hits over 5 1/3 innings.

"The thing I really knock myself on was the situational pitching," Bergesen said. "Every time we scored, I came right back and gave it up, and that really kills the momentum. That's why I was a little mad at myself."

But the O's -- who have been buoyed by their starting pitching since Showalter's arrival -- picked up their starter, collecting win No. 42 in the process.

"It's a mentality you like to get, that good things can happen if you keep grinding," said Showalter of the O's, who have a Major League-leading 11 extra-inning wins. "You've got to earn it."

Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.