The Orioles continued a recent trend of 11th-hour heroics Tuesday night when they battled back from a five-run deficit in the eighth and ninth innings. Baltimore chased closer Matt Lindstrom and tied the game in the ninth, but the Marlins still managed to eke out a 7-6 win in extra innings.
The Orioles had also rallied against closers Thursday and Sunday, and they netted five straight hits in Tuesday's tying rally. Baltimore used all of its position players and two pitchers to pinch-run and pinch-hit, but the Marlins stole the initiative with a leadoff walk in the 12th and sealed the win on a walk-off hit by Jorge Cantu.
"They got the job done. That's all there is to it," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "We had a very good comeback and put ourselves in a situation where we could've won the game. It didn't happen, but to come back like we did, I think it says something about the resiliency of the club and the guys we have on the team."
Trembley pulled out all the stops on Tuesday night, using Jeremy Guthrie as a pinch-runner and Rich Hill as a pinch-hitter at different points in the game. The O's had only five pinch-hits all season before Tuesday night, but got three more of them in the loss, all coming in either the eighth or ninth inning.
Catcher Matt Wieters helped spur the comeback with a home run in the eighth, and the Orioles came back for more in the ninth with five straight hits. Melvin Mora, Luke Scott and Wieters singled in the ninth, drawing the O's within two runs. Ty Wigginton pushed them closer with an RBI single and Oscar Salazar singled off Brian Sanches to tie the game.
"It's hard to rely on a bunch of hits in a row, but we managed to pull it out," said Wigginton, who entered the game late and stayed in at shortstop. "When you get a comeback like that, usually there's an error involved or something like that. Or somebody hits a home run. The whole lineup definitely contributed right there."
The Orioles still had three relievers in the bullpen -- including closer George Sherrill -- at the end of the game. Brian Bass walked Emilio Bonifacio to start the 12th, and then he threw a wild pitch to push him into scoring position. One intentional walk later, Bass faced off against Cantu with no outs.
Cantu ended up rifling a single to short left field, and Scott, who had entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the ninth, got off a solid throw to the plate. The ball ended up taking a short-hop behind the plate, though, and catcher Gregg Zaun wasn't able to glove the ball and make the sweep tag on Bonifacio to extend the game.
"That's an above average throw by Luke," said Zaun. "It took a little bit of a short-hop and it's a tough play, but it's not one that I haven't made dozens of times in my career before it. It just took a funny little squirt to the right and I didn't catch it in a good part of the mitt.
"It's a play that I should've made. It was a good enough throw by Luke to get him at the plate. If I catch the ball cleanly, we've got all kinds of time to make the tag."
The Marlins (36-36) had appeared to take firm control of the game in the seventh, thanks to some help from the Baltimore defense. Shortstop Robert Andino missed second base on a crucial fielder's choice to allow the Marlins to take a one-run lead, and then Hanley Ramirez blasted a grand slam to lengthen the deficit.
Danys Baez, who allowed that home run, said the game-changing shot came on a hanging split-fingered fastball. And to his credit, the veteran said that the Andino play had little or no bearing on the Ramirez home run.
"Andino knew a really fast guy was running and knew there was one out, so he was trying to make a double play," said Baez. "You have to come back and make a quality pitch. I made a mistake after four ground balls found the holes. It's one of those days and it's tough, but you've got to be ready for tomorrow."
The Orioles scored early on Tuesday, with leadoff man Brian Roberts doubling, moving to third on a wild pitch and scoring on a sacrifice fly. From there, Florida starter Andrew Miller never allowed another hit. Miller left after seven innings, outdueling Baltimore starter Koji Uehara but falling short of the victory.
Baltimore, which had just one hit in the first seven innings, rallied late enough to make things interesting. The Orioles finished with 11 hits and had one good scoring chance in extra innings. Wigginton singled in the 11th to push Zaun to third base, but wound up getting thrown out at second on a relay from Brett Carroll.
Hill flew out to left to end the rally, and the Orioles never got to second base again.
"I knew it was going to take a good throw," said Wigginton. "Obviously, I wouldn't have went if I knew 100 percent I was going to be out. With two outs, I'm definitely not going to try there at all. But I gave it a shot and it backfired. Now, obviously, I wish i hadn't went, but if we had the same situation tomorrow and if I felt like I'm going to get in there, you've got to be aggressive. We're the visiting team, plus we had the pitcher coming up behind me."
"He's a real heady baseball player and he made a mistake," said Trembley. "Everybody makes mistakes and he didn't get a read on it, and that's all you can do. I'm sure Ty wouldn't make excuses. If he had to do it all over again, I'm sure he would do something different than that. But that play gets over-magnified.
"We were down 6-1. I don't think that play should be the one that everybody points the finger at. I don't think that's fair."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less