Orioles welcome momentum back to their dugout

For a road trip that began with the Orioles allowing 25 runs in two games as their starters gave up 11 runs over a combined 4 2/3 innings, things have improved. And in a hurry.

The Orioles four-game win streak has energized the team and probably encouraged a fan base that was sensing some doom and gloom. Now the Orioles are tied with Chicago and Oakland for the second wild-card berth in the AL.

The win streak once again emphasizes how important it is for this club to get strong pitching to win. The team's batting average is .213 and it has scored 19 runs the last four games with 10 coming in one contest.

But the team ERA is 1.75 during the four-game streak. The O's starters have now put together four straight quality starts for the first time since May 15-18. The starters' ERA is 2.28 during this streak.

Over this stretch, O's starters have combined to pitch 27 2/3 innings, allowing 25 hits and seven runs with just four walks to 15 strikeouts.

With the starters getting deeper into games, the bullpen was not overtaxed and could be used with pitchers working in their normal roles. That has led to four straight games with the bullpen not allowing a run over 8 1/3 innings.

Believe it or not, that is the longest streak of consecutive scoreless games for the O's 'pen since a run of seven straight from April 28 to May 5.

Also, by the way, the Orioles have won these four games while going just 3-for-30 with runners in scoring position. But those three hits produced seven runs.

Also, the Orioles have continued a season-long trend of winning the close games during this win streak. They have won by one, one, eight and two runs the last four days. They are now 33-14 this year in games decided by two or fewer runs.

With the four wins, the Orioles are now 4-2 on this road trip with a chance for their first winning trip since they went 4-1 at Kansas City and Washington from May 16-20. The O's will have a winning trip if they get one of the next two games at Cleveland.

They went 3-6, 2-4 and 3-4 on their previous three trips.

Nick Markakis went 2-for-4 Saturday night and that was his fourth multi-hit game in nine contests since he returned from the disabled list. Markakis is 14-for-39 (.359) over those nine games with four doubles and five runs. In a stat oddity, his first four hits in his first two games of the second half were doubles and his last 10 hits have all been singles.

The Orioles have moved back to within seven games of first in the AL East as the Yankees have lost three in a row to Oakland, all by one run.

Also, four teams are now within a half-game of each other for the two AL wild-card spots. Los Angeles holds the top wild-card berth right now at 51-44, but the Orioles, Oakland and Chicago are all just a half-game back at 50-44 - in a three-way tie for the second wild-card spot.

For now, the Orioles have momentum back. They have reversed their losing ways and can once again look at the wild-card standings and like what they see.

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