CLEVELAND (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles are heading home with their playoff chances damaged, but still intact.
Zach Britton and Kevin Gausman allowed six runs over the first five innings Wednesday night, including a go-ahead RBI double by Yan Gomes in the fifth, as the Cleveland Indians beat Baltimore 6-4.
Manny Machado and Adam Jones homered for the Orioles, who lost two of three in Cleveland to complete their 10-day trip with a 3-6 record. They also dropped two of three at Boston and the Yankees, knocking them behind the Indians and New York in the American League wild-card race.
“It was a tough road trip because we did some things well, but not as consistently well as we needed them to be,” said Baltimore manager Buck Showalter, whose team was outscored 44-34 on its three-city journey.
“We’re scoring enough runs to win baseball games, but we’re not doing a whole lot consistently offensively. If we knew how to fix it, we’d dial it up, but it’s not that easy.”
The Orioles entered the night three games behind Tampa Bay, which holds the second AL wild-card spot, but never had the lead in the series finale at Progressive Field.
Britton, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Monday, allowed four runs and six hits in his shortest start of the season.
The left-hander lasted 2 1/3 innings in his first big league appearance since July 9.
The Indians took a 4-0 lead in the first after Britton allowed their first three batters to reach base, starting with an infield single by Michael Bourn. Ryan Raburn hit a two-out, two-run double to right.
“I had such a good opportunity with Buck giving me the chance to start and help out the team,” Britton said. “I felt like I settled down after being a little strong in the first, but unfortunately, the damage was already done. This is a tough one.”
Jones hit a solo homer off Indians right-hander Zach McAllister in the fourth to trim Baltimore’s deficit to 4-1, while Machado’s three-run shot off McAllister in the fifth tied the score. It was Jones’ 29th home run of the season and Machado’s 13th.
Gausman (2-4), however, allowed Cleveland to jump right back in front in the bottom of the fifth. The right-hander gave up a double to Gomes that scored Jason Kipnis, then threw a wild pitch to bring home Carlos Santana from third.
“It was a big first inning for them and a tough loss for us,” Machado said. “We know everybody is trying to make the playoffs at this point, including the Indians, but we’re not in panic mode. I don’t think we will be either.”
Francisco Rodriguez, Josh Stinson, and Jim Johnson threw three scoreless innings for the Orioles. Johnson, who leads the AL with 41 saves, made his first appearance since Aug.29.
Indians reliever Bryan Shaw (3-3) earned the win with one inning of work, while closer Chris Perez notched his 22nd save. Cleveland’s bullpen only allowed one hit over the final 4 1/3 innings, retiring 10 straight to wrap up the game.
“Our bullpen came in and did a really good job,” Indians manager Terry Francona said.
McAllister struck out six in 4 2/3 innings, but did not figure in the decision. He hit Jones with a pitch on the left arm, just below the elbow, in the second.
“That tells you all you need to know about our guys,” Showalter said. “Jonesy gets nailed on the forearm, but he stays in and comes back and hit a home run off McAllister. Every game, there are some positive things for us like that. That’s why I choose to trust these guys and continue to believe that good things are ahead.”
Six Orioles had one hit apiece, including shortstop J.J. Hardy, who went 1 for 4. With his next home run, Hardy will become the ninth player at the position with three or more seasons of 25 or more homers since 1901, joining Alex Rodriguez (7), Miguel Tejada (6), and Troy Tulowitzki (3).
NOTES: Orioles RHP Jason Hammel (right flexor strain) will be activated off the 15-day DL this weekend. Hammel made his final rehab appearance Tuesday, allowing one run in four innings for Class-A Aberdeen. “Because we have so many pitchers right now, we can use him in any capacity we want,” Showalter said. … The Orioles did not commit an error in the series, keeping their season total at 40. They are on pace to set major league records for the fewest errors and highest fielding percentage. … Orioles 1B Chris Davis has 12 home runs on Wednesdays this season, two off the AL record set by Tino Martinez in 1997 with the Yankees. … Orioles 2B Ryan Flaherty made his first start since being recalled from Single-A Frederick. … The Orioles open a four-game series Thursday at home against the Chicago White Sox. Baltimore RHP Miguel Gonzalez (8-7) faces Chicago LHP Jose Quintana (7-5).
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