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Orioles 10, Cardinals 3: Orioles hit three more home runs in domination of John Lackey

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The Orioles have scored 22 runs in the last two games against the Cardinals. That's pretty good, right?

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Orioles continued their offensive onslaught on the St. Louis Cardinals pitching staff today, putting up double digits for the second straight game thanks in part to home runs by Caleb Joseph, Delmon Young, and Nelson Cruz. The runs took the focus off of Ubaldo Jimenez in his first start since July 5th, as Jimenez struggled but ultimately got through six innings with three runs allowed (the ol' Quality Start, aka, 4.50 ERA).

Familiar foe John Lackey was on the mound for the Cardinals, recently traded from the Red Sox. If Lackey thought he'd have an easier time pitching now that he's in the National League, he didn't take into account an interleague series against the Orioles. The last time Lackey faced the Orioles was on July 5th, also opposing Jimenez. In that game Nelson Cruz went 5-for-5 with two doubles and a home run and Lackey gave up five runs. Afterwards he behaved like a giant baby, making passive-aggressive comments about Cruz's PED-related suspension. I don't know if the Orioles and Cruz remembered that and took it out on Lackey today, or if Lackey is just terrible. Probably a little bit of both. Whatever the case, the Orioles lit him up for nine runs in just five innings, and it was fun.

It was pretty easy to fall into a sour mood after 1 1/2 innings today, and that was almost solely on account of Jimenez. He walked two of the first three batters in the first, and then with two out gave up a double to Jhonny Peralta. Matt Carpenter scored easily, but Matt Holliday was gunned down at the plate thanks to a perfect relay throw from Delmon Young to Jonathan Schoop to Caleb Joseph. The play was reviewed but the call stood. (Rumor has it that Lackey requested that run be erased since it was on an RBI by someone suspended for PEDs.)

After the Orioles put two runners on with no outs in the bottom of the first but couldn't score, Jimenez gave up another run in the second, this one on a flag-court shot by Jon Jay. O's fans cried, "Ubaldo!" while shaking their fists at the sky.

That was the last time Jimenez gave me heartburn during the game, though, and that's thanks to the O's offense. With one out in the bottom of the second, J.J. Hardy singled and then came in to score on a double by Young. That was followed by ANOTHER home run by Caleb Joseph! Baltimore's favorite catcher has now homered in five straight games, the only O's catcher to ever do so. That gave the Orioles a lead that they didn't relinquish.

They added to their lead the next inning on Nelson Cruz's 30th home run of the year. It came with Adam Jones aboard and was one of two hits for Cruz on the day, both for extra bases. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come, because the O's could use him.

The Cardinals got one back in the fourth inning. Peralta doubled again (Lackey: "No comment") and moved to third base on wild pitch by Jimenez. From there he came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Jay.

Lackey lucked through a scoreless fourth inning despite two baserunners before the Orioles jumped on him for three more runs in the fifth. Cruz doubled off of the out-of-town scoreboard, a hit that would have been his second home run if it had gone a foot to the left. He came in to score on a single by Hardy, then Hardy rode home on a bomb by Young. Man, beating up on John Lackey is fun.

Three straight singles in the sixth by Nick Markakis, Schoop, and Manny Machado resulted in the ninth run charged to Lackey, and then sadly he was pulled from the game. Cruz came up later in the inning with one out and both of Lackey's runners still on, and I hoped he might hit another bomb just to make Lackey's day even worse. Instead he grounded into a double play.

The O's scored their tenth and final run in the eighth inning when Schoop came in to score on a wild pitch. Schoop had doubled earlier in the inning for his second hit of the game.

Though Jimenez didn't look like a 100% disaster out there today, he certainly didn't look like someone worth demoting Miguel Gonzalez for. But he did end his day strong, retiring the last five batters he faced. His final pitching line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HR. He threw 93 pitches, 59 for strikes, and had one wild pitch.

Brian Matusz started the seventh inning and was BABIP'd into giving up two singles, then Tommy Hunter came in to bail him out as well as pitch as perfect eighth inning. Brad Brach finished the game with a scoreless ninth, though he did walk two batters to prolong the Cardinals' agony before shutting the door.

With the win, the Orioles have now won seven straight series (that include a one-game "series" with the Nationals thanks to a rain out earlier this year). Thanks to the loss by the Yankees today, the Orioles now hold a six-game lead in the AL East for the first time since 9/15/1997. They go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon with Kevin Gausman on the mound for the Orioles.