ATLANTA (AP) — Adam Jones had a one-word description of the Orioles’ second straight shutout win: “Chen-sational.”
Wei-Yin Chen combined with four relievers on a seven-hitter and Baltimore continued its success in interleague play by beating the Atlanta Braves 2-0 on Sunday.
The Braves, who have lost six of seven, were shut out in back-to-back games for the first time since June 5-6, 2009. Jason Hammel threw a one-hitter in a 5-0 victory for the Orioles on Saturday night.
Jones said Hammel and Chen dominated by staying ahead in the count.
“It’s been pretty fun to watch from center field,” Jones said. “The important part of it is they always started with strike one. They’ve been able to do what they want because they’ve been ahead in counts.”
The Orioles, who remained 1 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East, have won seven of eight. They are 9-3 in interleague play with series wins over Washington, Philadelphia,
Pittsburgh and Atlanta.
Chen (7-2) gave up six hits and one walk in seven innings to outpitch Randall Delgado (4-7), who allowed only two runs and three hits in eight innings.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter applauded Chen’s ability to successfully bunt and field bunts — no small feat for an American League pitcher from Taiwan.
Chen’s sacrifice helped the Orioles score a run in the sixth.
“It’s something you work on in spring training and it could be a difference-maker in the game, and I think it was today,” Showalter said.
Chen fielded a poor bunt by Delgado in the third to start a double play that helped spoil a scoring opportunity for Atlanta.
“I’m sure they were rolling their eyes in spring training as we were going over and over bunt defense, being an American League East team,” Showalter said. “It was nice that it helped us and made a difference.”
Still, Chen is no fan of interleague play.
“Not really, because I hate hitting,” he said through a translator.
Jim Johnson pitched a perfect ninth for his 20th save. Darren O’Day, Troy Patton and Pedro Strop combined for a scoreless eighth.
Delgado’s eight innings matched his longest start. He walked one batter and struck out six.
Jones led off the second with a ground-rule double to right field. After moving to third on Wilson Betemit’s fly ball, Jones scored on Mark Reynolds’ sacrifice fly.
“They did a good job of executing small ball,” Braves catcher David Ross said. “They played the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”
A misplay by Matt Diaz helped Baltimore stretch the lead in the sixth. Diaz ran in before stopping too late and watching a line drive by Steve Pearce sail over his head for a double to the left-field wall. Pearce advanced on the sacrifice by Chen and scored when Delgado balked with Robert Andino at the plate.
Delgado balked as he tried to move from the stretch to a full windup.
“You just have to do that step-off, but I didn’t,” he said.
The Braves lost two of three to the Orioles after being swept in three games by the Yankees.
One day after being shut out by Hammel, the Braves sputtered again as they hit into double plays in each of the first three innings.
“We played well, same as we did in the Yankees series, but we’ve got nothing to show for it,” manager Fredi Gonzalez said. “We outhit them (7-4) again today and got nothing to show for it.”
Showalter said the Orioles “got some breaks here” by facing the Braves when first baseman Freddie Freeman missed the series with a sore finger.
“The only thing we need to avoid is pressing,” said Braves third baseman Chipper Jones, who was 0 for 3 with a walk. “You’d still like to think you can go out there and score three runs no matter who’s in the ballgame.”
Ross and Andrelton Simmons led off the third with singles before Delgado bounced a bunt too hard toward Chen, who threw to third to start a double play. Simmons advanced to third on a throwing error by Andino at second base, but Michael Bourn ended the inning on a groundout.
The third was the only inning in which the Braves managed more than one hit.
Showalter said he was impressed by the play of Simmons, the rookie shortstop who in the third inning made a tough grab of a sharply hit grounder by Jones and bounced up to make a strong throw to first to end the inning.
Atlanta’s Eric O’Flaherty, who had been out with a sore left elbow, got one out in the ninth in his first appearance since June 8.
NOTES: The Braves placed RHP Brandon Beachy on the 15-day disabled list and recalled RHP Todd Redmond from Triple-A Gwinnett. Beachy will have an MRI on Monday. Freeman said the swollen knuckle on his left index finger has improved “a lot” after he received two cortisone shots Saturday. He missed his fourth
straight start. Andino started in place of 2B Brian Roberts, who was given a day off. Showalter said it was “prudent” to be careful with Roberts, who returned Tuesday from the 60-day DL (concussion). The Brewers shut out the Braves in two straight games in Atlanta from June 5-6, 2009. Delgado also lasted eight innings on May 3, giving up two runs in a loss to Philadelphia. The Orioles open a three-game series at the Mets on Monday night, with RHP Jake Arrieta facing R.A. Dickey. The Braves also head to
New York to face the Yankees, who swept three games in Atlanta last week. Mike Minor will face CC Sabathia.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)