Strop wins battle with Hamilton (O’s win game, 5-3)

If the Orioles are going to win tonight’s game against the Rangers, they will need their bullpen to step up again.

Darren O’Day tripped after replacing Chris Tillman with two outs in the seventh. He walked Ian Kinsler and gave up a single to Elvis Andrus.

Pedro Strop replaced O’Day with Josh Hamilton representing the go-ahead run. He fell behind 2-0 on 97 and 96 mph fastballs, got a called strike with a 97 mph fastball, fell behind 3-1 with a 98 mph fastball and threw three straight sliders to get the strikeout.

Hamilton couldn’t check his swing on the first one, reached the second deck in foul territory on the second and swung through the third.

Interesting decision by catcher Matt Wieters to call for the slider again after Hamilton almost belted a three-run homer. Strop has made the mistake a few times this season of speeding up a hitter’s bat by going away from his heater. Tonight, he got a huge strikeout.

The Orioles’ bullpen has posted a 1.64 ERA in the last 17 games since August 3.

The Orioles are 51-0 when leading after seven innings this season. They need six more outs tonight.

Update: Strop lowered his ERA to 1.46 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Jim Johnson tied Fernando Rodney for the major league lead with his 38th save in the Orioles’ 5-3 victory over the Rangers.

Johnson needs seven more saves to tie Randy Myers for the single-season franchise record.

The Orioles are 43-18 in one- and two-run games, and 52-0 when leading after the seventh.

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