He came up short of a no-no, but Hammel's solid season has been big for the O's

So Jason Hammel had been there before, in terms of flirting with a no-hitter. In fact, it happened on the first Sunday of the year against Minnesota in his first career Orioles start.

But that day he gave up a Justin Morneau double to start the eighth to lose the no-hit bid and last night it was a Jason Heyward single with two outs in the seventh. It seemed he had been pitching Heyward away on just about every pitch of that at-bat and the Braves outfielder finally got one he could handle to drive it for a single to left.

But beyond Hammel coming up short in his bid to pitch the sixth no-hitter in Orioles history and first by the club since July 13, 1991, he had a masterful outing, showed he could get deep into a game, and maybe his right knee soreness is no longer an issue.

He pitched the 33rd one-hitter in team history and first since Daniel Cabrera at New York against the Yankees on Sept. 28, 2006. He won that game 7-1. The last one-hit, complete-game shutout by an Oriole was Mike Mussina against Minnesota at Camden Yards on Aug. 1, 2000 when he won 10-0 and had 15 strikeouts.

Here are the last five one-hitters by the O's before last night:

* Ben McDonald on July 20, 1993 vs. Kansas City
* Ben McDonald on Aug. 5, 1994 at Milwaukee
* Mike Mussina on May 30, 1997 vs. Cleveland
* Mike Mussina on Aug. 1, 2000 vs. Minnesota
* Daniel Cabrera on Sept. 28, 2006 at New York

Hammel has proven to be a huge pickup for the Orioles and here are two very impressive stats for him: he has given up two earned runs or less in nine of his 13 starts and the Orioles are 10-3 in his starts.

Hammel threw 11 or fewer pitches in five of his nine innings, throwing 11 in the eighth, 10 in the fourth and sixth, and six in the fifth and ninth innings.

A few other notes from the win:

* Wilson Betemit had a hit and run scored last night. Over his last three games, he is 6-for-10 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs.

* Steve Pearce went 2-for-4 and scored twice. Over his past four games he is 6-for-14 with a homer and seven RBIs.

* The Orioles began last night ranked 11th in the AL in rotation ERA at 4.68 and Hammel's outing lowered that to 4.57.

* The Orioles improved to 16-0 when their starter goes seven innings or more and 27-3 when they get a quality start of six innings or more and three earned runs or less.

* The Orioles have now won six of the last seven, eight of 11 and nine of the last 13 games. They are 19-13 in road games and 8-3 in interleague play.

* A win today would give the O's a fourth consecutive series victory following a stretch where they lost four series in a row.

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