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SEA@BAL: Jones rips a walk-off single in the 14th

BALTIMORE -- You can pore over statistics about this Orioles team -- the negative run differential, the alarming rate of errors and the all-too-frequent short starts -- and it won't do you a bit of good.

Because there's only one number Baltimore cares about and it's in the win column, a total fast approaching unbelievable proportions, particularly when you get past another number: nine.

Yes, these plucky O's did it again Tuesday night, rallying from an early five-run deficit for the second time in a week to pull off their Major League-leading 12th consecutive extra-innings win.

The 8-7 victory -- which came on Adam Jones' bases-loaded walk-off single in the 14th inning -- secured a series win over Seattle and closed the Orioles' gap to 4 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees, their slimmest margin for the American League East lead since June 29.

The Orioles are the first team in the Majors to play five games this season that went into the 13th inning, and they are a perfect 5-0 in those contests. How are they this good when the games go this late?

"I don't know," said catcher Matt Wieters, who delivered a pair of solo homers early and caught all 14 innings. "I don't know if anybody can give you an exact answer other than [we] just keep playing. There is no quit in this team. And we know with our bullpen they keep putting up zeros, and eventually somebody's got to score."

Those odds have always been in the Orioles favor, and Tuesday was no different. Following an abbreviated outing for starter Zach Britton -- who was optioned to Triple-A Norfolk after the game -- the Orioles bullpen tossed nine scoreless innings, keeping the Mariners in check while waiting for the bats to come through.

"The bullpen was the difference," said manager Buck Showalter, who used every reliever except closer Jim Johnson, who warmed up briefly, and sent Wednesday's starter Tommy Hunter out to warm up as well. "Took everybody to the limit. We were getting close to Chris Davis time."

Jones made sure Davis -- who tossed two scoreless innings to earn a win in a 17-inning game on May 6 in Boston -- didn't budge from his spot at designated hitter.

With the bases loaded in the 14th, following an intentional walk issued to Davis, Jones sent reliever Shawn Kelley's fastball into right field, a liner that cut away from Casper Wells and scooted along the outfield grass, scoring Omar Quintanilla for yet another improbable victory.

Asked if he's come to expect a win in extra innings, Jones said: ""There's never doubt in my mind, in general. Trust me. I trust these 25 men. So, we're all here together."

Quintanilla got things going, legging out a infield single when first base umpire Brian Knight ruled Mike Carp's foot was off the base, a ruling Seattle manager Eric Wedge argued and got ejected for.

"When you talk about first baseman coming off the bag, it's been in the game for a hundred-plus years," Wedge said of the call. "But [Carp] didn't even come close to coming off the bag. It was evident he was on there, and noticeably so. It's just a damn shame he has to make the call right there and cost us the ballgame."

With Quintanilla at first, Nick Markakis followed with his fourth hit of the game, and J.J. Hardy's sacrifice moved the pair of runners into scoring position. Kelly, on for his third inning, walked Davis to put the force on and bring Jones to the plate.

"It's just one runner," Kelley said of the questionable call that put Quintanilla on. "It came down to the bases loaded there and I just didn't get the pitch quite off the plate enough to Jones."

The result was a jubilant and exhausted O's club celebrating another walk-off win. The Orioles are 23-6 in one-run games, winners of their last 11 in a row. And there's no bigger reason than the bullpen, which got key two-inning outings from Kevin Gregg, Matt Lindstrom and Darren O'Day, who closed the game out.

Lindstrom pitched around a pair of singles in the 12th inning, following a 1-2-3 11th, while Pedro Strop stranded a one-out infield single in the 10th for his 14th consecutive scoreless outing.

Following a four-up, four-down outing from lefty Troy Patton, Showalter summoned right-hander Luis Ayala, who gave up a pair of ninth-inning hits to Jesus Montero and Kyle Seager. Ayala then retired Casper Wells on a deep fly ball, narrowly missing doubling up Montero at second base, and won a nine-pitch battle with Carp keep the score deadlocked at 7-7.

"We know that if it does go extras, we're just going to pull together," Lindstrom said of a bullpen that entered the game with a 3.14 ERA. "And think of the guys who didn't even pitch tonight. We had Jim [Johnson] down there. He was three in a row. And we had Chris Davis available."

Jokes aside, the Orioles bullpen was able to neutralize a Mariners offense that scored its final runs in the sixth inning. Down 7-3 -- with Wieters' homers closing the gap -- the Orioles rallied to tie it in the seventh inning, with J.J. Hardy delivering a game-tying three-run homer.

Hardy's blast negated a poor start from the scuffling Britton, who put the Orioles in a three-run hole right off the bat. Britton's own error allowed Ackley to reach to start the game and, after a pair of strikeouts and a questionable defensive play from Wilson Betemit, Kyle Seager made him pay with a towering three-run home run.

The 24-year-old Britton surrendered a solo homer to Miguel Olivo in the second and the Mariners went on to increase their lead to 5-0. He settled down to retire nine of 10 at one point, and exited after Carp's RBI single in the sixth.

"Obviously you want to pitch better to start off," said Britton, who posted a 8.10 ERA in five starts and was optioned in favor of Steve Johnson, who will start in Hunter's place. "But to see us not quit shows what kind of team we've got, especially with the months coming up and the schedule we've got ahead. We fight to the end and that's really big for us right now."

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