Nick Johnson picked a great time for his first homer as an Oriole.
Johnson, who began tonight batting .122, hit a two-run shot in the last of the seventh to give the O’s the 4-3 lead and a 4-3 win tonight over Tampa Bay. Johnson took a pitch from Joel Peralta out to right field to bring the Camden Yards crowd of 26,669 to its feet.
The Orioles began tonight leading the major leagues in home runs with 50, and they added three important ones tonight to edge Tampa Bay in Game 1 of a series between the teams that began tonight tied for the AL East lead.
For Johnson, it was his first homer since May 5, 2010 when he hit one for the Yankees against the Orioles and David Hernandez.
The Orioles trailed 3-1 after four innings and scored their first run when Adam Jones hit his tenth homer of the year off Jeremy Hellickson in the second. Nick Markakis hit a solo shot, his sixth, to bring the Orioles within one run in the sixth.
Orioles starter Dana Eveland made his team debut tonight and struggled badly with his control, but gave up just three runs over six innings. Eveland walked six and hit two batters, throwing 95 pitches, just 51 for strikes.
After Darren O’Day pitched a scoreless seventh, he became the pitcher of record when Johnson hit his homer for the lead. Pedro Strop pitched a shutout eighth, and Jim Johnson got the final three outs to record his 10th save of the year and his 18th straight dating to last season.
With the win, the Orioles improved to 21-12 on the year with their 13th win in the last 17 games. They are now 10-7 at home and 11-5 against the AL East.
It was a stirring comeback win for the Orioles as they moved ahead of Tampa to take the AL East lead in Game 1 of a big weekend series at Camden Yards.