What a difference an Avery makes (O's win 5-4, S. Johnson optioned)

It's unfortunate that an injury is the reason why outfielder Xavier Avery is back in the majors, but he's making an impact again tonight.

Batting leadoff with Brian Roberts on the disabled list, Avery is 2-for-3 with a run scored, and he's a central figure in this game, which had been scoreless until the sixth inning.

Avery led off the inning with his second hit of the night and later scored on Chris Davis' third hit of the series.

Talk about setting a tone. Avery began a streak of four consecutive hits in the inning. They totaled three hits in nine innings last night.

Jim Thome grounded out, but Matt Wieters followed with a two-run single to increase the Orioles' lead to 4-0 and send Felix Hernandez to the showers.

I wrote earlier today that Hernandez had allowed two runs in his last three starts covering 23 innings, with three walks and 30 strikeouts. He gave up four runs and eight hits in 5 1/3 innings tonight, though he struck out eight.

Wei-Yin Chen has struck out eight in five innings. That's it. You won't find another number above a zero except for his pitch count, which is 61.

Update: Towson University's own Casper Wells ended Chen's bid for perfection after 6 1/3 innings with a solo home run on a 3-2 pitch.

Chen didn't want to walk Wells with the count full. The left-hander had to challenge him, and Wells won the battle by pulling a 92 mph fastball into the left field seats.

That's the only hit off Chen through seven innings. He walked off the mound with a grin on his face. Yeah, he knew that he had a perfect game with Wells at the plate.

Update II: Pedro Strop gave up three straight hits in the eighth, hit a batter and walked in the tying run. Chen is charged with two runs, Strop is charged with two, and it's 4-4 heading to the top of the ninth.

The Orioles are 30-0 when leading after seven innings. Strop must not have gotten the memo.

Update III: Robert Andino, who shouldered the blame for last night's loss, broke a 4-4 tie in the ninth inning with his first home run since May 7.

Jim Johnson picked up his 24th save, fielding two bouncers near the mound, and the Orioles dodged a demoralizing loss with a 5-4 victory.

Avery went 3-for-5 after being recalled today.

The Orioles are guaranteed a winning record at the All-Star break for the second time since 1998. They were 47-40 at the break in 2005.

Update IV: The Orioles will option pitcher Steve Johnson to Triple-A Norfolk to make room for Chris Tillman, who starts the series finale. Johnson spent two days with the Orioles, but didn't make his major league debut.

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