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Orioles avoid sweep vs. Indians with 3-1 victory, thanks to 12 hits and a Gausman quality start

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The Orioles came into Sunday's game looking to avoid their first sweep since late May. Thanks to 12 hits from the offense, including home runs by Steve Pearce and Jonathan Schoop, and a Kevin Gausman quality start, they pulled off a 4-1 win.

Jason Miller

You can keep the Orioles offense down for a little while, but when they get up, you don't want to be the team still standing there. The O's hitters finally broke out in Cleveland as they tried to stave off a sweep at the hands of the Indians. On Sunday afternoon, the Orioles notched more hits (12) than they did in the rest of the series combined in a 4-1 win over their hosts.

A day after their first back-to-back losses since late June, the Orioles came out looking to avoid their first sweep since late May. Tasked with holding the line was Kevin Gausman, who responded to this challenge by walking two of the game's first three batters. Oh no! Here we go again. Except it was okay, because Cleveland was kind enough to bat an Izturisian infielder second in the form of Jose Ramirez, who bunted to give up an out. Gausman escaped the jam, despite a double steal, after a foul popup and an easy groundout.

Initially, the offense did not do a whole lot to help their cause. They came into the game having not scored a run since the eighth inning on Friday night. They blew their first promising scoring chance. Chris Davis, dumped down to seventh in the order, led off the third inning with a double off the left field wall. An awful throw in from left by Michael Brantley allowed Davis to get away with a belly flop slide. The Orioles' luck quickly turned, as Nick Hundley scorched a liner that was caught after a leap by second baseman Jason Kipnis. Davis was doubled off. You couldn't even get mad about it.

Despite Jonathan Schoop getting to second on a two-base error and a Nick Markakis walk, the Orioles could not add to the two-out rally to score in the inning.

The Indians got on the scoreboard first in the fourth inning, taking advantage of the fact that Delmon Young was manning left field to start the game. Carlos Santana hit the kind of double that's only a double when hit in Young's direction. One batter later, Kipnis dropped a single in front of a charging Adam Jones. Cleveland's third base coach aggressively sent Santana, which paid off after a wide throw from Jones couldn't be handled by catcher Nick Hundley.

That put the Indians on the board 1-0. They would get no runs, or even any hits, for the whole rest of the game.

The Orioles broke out of their scoreless streak in the sixth inning. Steve Pearce led off the inning with a double crushed to center. Jones was hit by a pitch, putting two men on with none out. That was enough for Indians manager Terry Francona to pull his starter, Danny Salazar, in favor of the graybeard Scott Atchison. The next two Orioles batters made outs. With two outs, J.J. Hardy had two strikes on him. Here's where they were about to blow it, only they didn't: Hardy drove an outside fastball into right, getting the O's even on the scoreboard at 1-1.

They were not done yet. Davis muscled a double down the left field line, scoring Jones easily, although Hardy had to stop at third even though there were two outs and the ball went deep into the left field corner. Well, whatever. The run didn't matter. The Orioles' 2-1 lead was all they would need to win the game.

After his offense got him the lead, Gausman sent them down 1-2-3 in the sixth inning. He was pulled after that with 91 pitches thrown. It was not a great outing for Gausman, who also walked a pair of batters in the fifth inning, but he bailed himself out by fielding a comebacker for an inning-ending double play. Across his six innings, he gave up only a run on two hits, but he also walked four and struck out only two. Winning without your best stuff is part of pitching.

Following Gausman's departure, the Indians did not get another base runner until the ninth inning, when closer Zach Britton issued a one-out walk before getting a game-ending 4-6-3 double play from Kipnis. Darren O'Day and Andrew Miller each also pitched a scoreless inning out of the Orioles bullpen. Miller struck out all three Indians he faced. That's pretty good, right?

After Salazar's departure, Francona employed a parade of relievers for no discernible reason. He used six pitchers over the game's final four innings. Two of them ran into problems, by which I mean homers. Pearce crushed a pitch from Chen-Chang Lee to the gate beyond the left field fence in the seventh inning, his 12th of the season.

The next inning, Jonathan Schoop victimized reliever Kyle Crockett, unleashing a display of raw strength as he drove a ball over the fence in deep center. That was also Schoop's 12th homer, and it set up the game's 4-1 final score.

Five Orioles had multi-hit games: Pearce, Jones, Hardy, Davis, and Schoop.

For being on the mound at the right time, Gausman was given the win, raising his record to 7-4. For his reliever allowing inherited runners to score, Salazar took the loss, dropping to 4-6 on the year. Britton's save was his 26th.

Elsewhere in the division, the Yankees beat the Rays, 4-2, while the Blue Jays fell to the White Sox, 7-5. That leaves the Orioles with a seven-game lead over second-place New York, and 7.5 games up on Toronto. The O's still hold the largest division lead in MLB.

The road trip moves on into the Central time zone as the Orioles will spend the week in Chicago. First up are the White Sox on Monday night for a scheduled 8:10 start. Bud Norris will take the mound for the Orioles, while the O's hitters will be up against ace Chris Sale. Sounds like a real even matchup.

The Orioles don't face a team that currently has a winning record again until September 12. They ran the gauntlet without getting tripped up. Now it's time to do the cakewalk without getting eaten by all the cake.