This time the Orioles lose the lead, but not the game, at Seattle

A pitcher on a roll takes a perfect game into the seventh inning but doesn’t even get a win. A struggling hitter delivers a huge home run. Just another night with the Baltimore Orioles.

Wei-Yin Chen lost a perfect game bid when Casper Wells hit a solo homer off him after he had retired the first 19 batters tonight. The O’s took a 4-1 lead for Chen into the last of the eighth, but reliever Pedro Strop gave up three singles, hit a batter and issued a bases-loaded walk as the Orioles lost the lead and Seattle tied the game at 4-4.

But Robert Andino, one night after his dropped throw on a steal attempt cost the Orioles, hit a solo homer to left with two outs in the top of the ninth, and the Orioles escaped Seattle tonight with a 5-4 win over the Mariners.

Andino entered this game in a 2-for-24 slump and was 0-for-3 tonight until he connected off Charlie Furbush to regain the lead for the Orioles. It was his fourth homer of the year and first since May 7 against Texas.

Jim Johnson restored order on the mound by getting the Mariners 1-2-3 in the ninth to pick up his 24th save.

So, on a night an Orioles pitcher lost a perfect game bid in the seventh and the team lost a three-run lead in the eighth, they got a key homer in the ninth to pick up an important win.

With New York’s loss to Tampa Bay tonight, the Orioles gained ground and moved to within five games of the first-place Yankees. It was just the O’s second win in the last eight games as they moved to 43-37 on the year.

With this win, the Orioles guaranteed that they will have a winning record at the All-Star break for just the second time since 1998.

Some postgame notes:

* The Orioles lost the lead they held after the seventh inning but, by pulling out the victory, they remain the only AL team that is unbeaten when leading after seven innings this year. They are now 31-0.

* Not only was the homer Andino’s first since May 7, but the RBI was his first since June 8, ending a run of 14 games for him without one.

* The Orioles improve to 15-6 in one-run games and are now 27-12 in games decided by two runs or less.

* This was Chen’s second longest outing of the year. He went 7 2/3 on May 10 against Texas. He has now allowed two earned runs or less in 11 of his 16 starts this year.

* Orioles starting pitchers had worked to an ERA of 10.19 over the previous seven games until Chen allowed just two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings tonight. This was just the third quality start for an O’s pitcher over the last 14 games.

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