Buck doesn't stop here as Orioles walk off
Jones' two-out single in 10th lifts O's to fourth straight win
BALTIMORE -- Redemption.
That's the word Orioles center fielder Adam Jones used to describe his 10th-inning walk-off RBI single, a clutch hit that came just two innings removed off that same arm -- White Sox reliever Tony Pena -- that got Jones to pop up with the bases loaded.
Yes, it was sweet revenge for Jones and the last-place Orioles, a reprisal that could just as easily describe what has transpired in Baltimore these last four days. An O's squad in a seemingly season-long slump -- and on the heels of a 1-6 road trip to Kansas City and Toronto -- pulled off its second consecutive walk-off win on Friday night, this time a series-opening victory over the American League Central-leading White Sox. Jones' single scored Nick Markakis for a 2-1 win, keeping the Orioles perfect in the Buck Showalter era.
"Four wins, no [losses]," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said, as he mulled over what Showalter has done in the opposing dugout since Tuesday's arrival.
"Believe me, managers don't freakin' make baseball teams. They make them play better, but when you pitch the way they pitched against us and the kind of offense they have, you win games."
Just ask the Angels. Coming off a three-game sweep in which the Orioles starters -- admittingly auditioning for Showalter -- pitched to a 2.61 ERA, Brad Bergesen became the latest young arm to command his new manager's attention.
Showing his trademark sinkerball and pounding the strike zone, Bergesen allowed just one run -- a third-inning solo homer to Gordon Beckham -- and only threw more than 15 pitches once, in a dominant seven-inning outing.
"You want to come in here and make a good first impression for [Showalter]," said Bergesen, who has had a rocky sophomore campaign, including two separate stints in Triple-A. "Obviously for me, I'm fighting for my job. At times, I almost feel like I'm fighting for my next start."
There were no signs of struggle Friday night, as some solid O's defense helped Bergesen escape the only threatening scenario he would face. With the score tied at 1, Mark Kotsay tripled off the bullpen in right field to put the go-ahead run 90 feet away with one out in the seventh. Alexei Ramirez followed with a slow roller to first base that Ty Wigginton barehanded and threw home to catcher Matt Wieters, who did an impressive job blocking the plate to nab a sliding Kotsay. Markakis made an over-the-shoulder grab at the warning track to retire A.J. Pierzynski and keep Bergesen's line intact.
"He was aggressive," Showalter said of Bergesen, who issued just one walk against five strikeouts. "You've got to match [the opposing pitcher] and give your team a chance, and he did more than give us a chance. He never gave in."
Bergesen was replaced by reliever Koji Uehara, who struck out the first two batters he faced in the eighth. After allowing a single to Juan Pierre, Uehara got Brent Lillibridge to ground out to keep the game tied. In his last 10 appearances, a stretch of 10 2/3 innings, Uehara has allowed just one earned run, and he turned the ball over to closer Alfredo Simon, who did some equally impressive relief work.
"He was outstanding," Showalter said of Simon, who tossed a scoreless ninth and 10th, and picked up his third win in the process. "He had a good, confident look in his eyes. He was really trusting what he was featuring."
Energized by Simon's inning-ending strikeout of Pierre, the Orioles' offense went to work in the bottom half of the 10th.
Markakis delivered his season-high fourth hit of the night courtesy of a one-out flare off Pena, and after Wigginton flied out, Luke Scott's single put runners on the corners, bringing Jones to the plate with the game on the line.
"He got away with one," Jones said of Pena's eighth-inning acrobatics. "But he didn't get away with it twice."
"Baseball is great at exposing strengths and weaknesses," said Showalter, who moved past Don Zimmer for 64th on the all-time win win list with Friday's No. 836.
"That ball will find you and the situation will find you, and you get another opportunity. As much as it breaks your heart, you get another opportunity."
And the Orioles are making the most of it.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.