Get the lead. Lose the lead. Get the lead back.
The Orioles used six- and three-run innings to do just that in a 9-7 win over Oakland in the start of this important weekend series tonight in front of 36,761 at Camden Yards.
Up by two runs, Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless eighth inning before Jim Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to record his first save since Aug. 6 and No. 40 on the year. Johnson is now 31-for-33 in save chances when the lead is two or more.
Brian Roberts hit his sixth career grand slam as the O’s scored six in the fourth to lead 6-3. But Oakland answered that with a four-run fifth to lead 7-6.
The O’s answer was a three-run seventh to get the lead back. The rally featured three singles, a walk and a costly A’s error.
The O’s tied the game at 7-7 on a hot smash off the bat of Chris Davis that might have gone for a double play ball had second baseman Eric Sogard come up with it cleanly, but he didn’t. An Adam Jones RBI grounder for the 8-7 lead followed and later, a Nick Markakis single made it 9-7.
O’s starter Bud Norris gave up a run in the first and two in the third to fall behind 3-0 and got knocked from the game during Oakland’s four-run fifth.
Norris lasted just 4 2/3 innings, allowing nine hits and seven runs. He threw 109 pitches and, over four starts against Oakland this year (three with Houston), Norris has an ERA of 9.35.
In the big O’s fourth inning, Jones two-run homer to right, his 26th of the year, made it a 3-2 game. Later in the inning, Roberts’ slam put the O’s ahead 6-3.
His third homer of the year came on a 1-1 pitch and made Roberts 13-for-29 with runners in scoring position this year. He is now 3-for-4 with the bases loaded and the slam was his first since Sept. 12, 2009 at New York.
The Orioles improved to 4-1 this season against Oakland and this win clinches their first season series victory over the A’s since 1998. The O’s are now 20-11 vs. the AL West and 69-58 overall.