HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — It looked like Baltimore reliever Brad Brach had put his early season struggles behind him after three straight scoreless appearances.
But things fell apart Monday night and it cost the Orioles a win.
Evan Gattis drove in two runs in a four-run seventh inning and the Houston Astros continued their late-inning magic as they rallied for a 5-2 victory over Baltimore.
The Astros have scored a major league-leading 94 runs in the seventh inning or later this season.
They trailed by one entering the seventh before a leadoff single by Chris Carter knocked starter Ubaldo Jimenez out of the game. He was replaced by Brach (3-1), who walked Luis Valbuena before a single by pinch-hitter Hank Conger loaded the bases.
“It’s just one of those nights I didn’t have it,” Brach said. “It’s unfortunate because Ubaldo pitched such a good game and I come in there just trying to get a ground ball, get a double play and I walk the leadoff guy and I’m putting myself in trouble.”
George Springer singled to tie it up with one out before Jose Altuve’s sacrifice fly put Houston on top. Gattis drove in two more to make it 5-2.
“He just couldn’t seem to get himself back in sync,” manager Buck Showalter said of Brach. “Got into a little rut there and couldn’t make an adjustment. Something we thought he had gotten over.”
Brach lamented his missed opportunity to put the game away.
“Just did not do a good job of throwing strikes,” he said. “Didn’t command my fastball. Got behind in counts and didn’t do myself any favors out there.”
Will Harris (2-0) pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings for the win and Luke Gregerson struck out two in a perfect ninth for his 14th save.
Valbuena hit his 11th homer in the fifth inning to give the Astros their first run.
Chris Davis and Ryan Flaherty drove in a run apiece for the Orioles, who were playing outside of the Eastern time zone for the first time this season.
Jimenez yielded four hits and two runs with eight strikeouts in six-plus innings. It was his second straight start against the Astros after throwing seven innings, but not factoring in the decision in Baltimore’s 5-4 win on Wednesday.
Houston starter Brett Oberholtzer was activated from his second stint on the disabled list with a blister on his left index finger before the game to make his second start of the season. He allowed seven hits with two runs and two walks in 5 1/3 innings.
Davis put Baltimore on top 2-1 with a double with one out in the sixth inning to chase Oberholtzer.
He was replaced by Harris, who retired the next two batters to end the threat.
Steve Pearce walked to start the fifth inning and scored on a one-out triple by Flaherty to make it 1-0. That ball landed deep in center field and rolled up Tal’s Hill and away from center fielder Colby Rasmus.
Valbuena’s homer to right field came with one out in the bottom of that inning to even it at 1-all. Jimenez plunked Jason Castro on the side of the right knee after that. Castro fell to the ground where he remained for a couple of minutes before getting up and limping to first base while talking to a trainer. He jogged around near first base for a bit before remaining in the game.
He was replaced by Conger in the seventh inning with a right knee contusion and he is listed as day to day.
Baltimore’s Delmon Young had two outfield assists Monday night and leads the majors with eight. His work gave the Orioles 18 this season, which moves them past the White Sox for most in the majors.
Orioles: Adam Jones returned after missing the last two games with a sprained left ankle. He was the team’s designated hitter to keep him off his feet for one more day. Showalter said he will be back in center field on Tuesday if he isn’t sore. … SS J.J. Hardy was out of the lineup with soreness on his left side. Showalter said Hardy wanted to play but they held him out as a precaution.
Astros: RHP Brad Peacock, who is on the DL with a left intercostal strain, is making progress and could throw batting practice on Saturday at Double-A Corpus Christi. If that goes well a rehabilitation start in the minors would likely follow.
Baltimore rookie Mike Wright makes his fourth career start against RHP Collin McHugh. Wright is 2-0 with a 1.40 ERA in his three starts. He did not allow a run in his first two starts before giving up three in his last one. McHugh looks to get back on track after.
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