O's get three in sixth, rally to beat Cubs and avoid a sweep at Wrigley Field (updated)

CHICAGO – The Orioles showed up for the series finale at Wrigley Field today looking for some runs after scoring just five in the series' first two games, losing both. They knew they would again play without injured regulars Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle.

Shortly before gametime, they added Gunnar Henderson to the list of those they would be without. But at least this was not an injury. Manager Brandon Hyde told the Peacock broadcasters during the game that Henderson was not feeling well. He had recently missed a couple of games with a lower back issue, so that actually came as good news.

The news would get better mid-game on the way to a 6-3 Orioles win.

Trailing 3-2 to the top of the sixth, the Orioles put together their best rally of the weekend, scoring three runs on five hits to take a 5-3 lead. They won by that margin to salvage the final game of this series before Monday’s off-day and a series with first-place Tampa Bay that begins Tuesday.

Ryan O’Hearn started the go-ahead rally with a single off Cubs starter Jameson Taillon. Aaron Hicks doubled to deep right to put men on second and third, and a sac fly by Ramón Urías tied it 3-3. Lefty Anthony Kay came in from the Cubs’ bullpen and was greeted with Adam Frazier’s RBI single to center and an O’s 4-3 lead. That was just their second lead this series. Two batters later, Jorge Mateo’s RBI single made it 5-3 and sent another runner to third. But Mateo was thrown out trying to get to second.

The damage was done, however, and the Orioles had a two-run lead with 12 outs to still get.

With the win, the Orioles are 44-27 and they avoided getting swept three in a row for the first time this season. In fact, they have not been swept three straight since May 13-15, 2022 at Detroit. And not by a National League team since May 21-23, 2021 at Washington.

The Orioles did not have a lead in the first two games of this series, and the Cubs today gained a lead very quickly. After the Orioles did not score in their first inning, Chicago center fielder Mike Tauchman led off the home first with a home run to left for the 1-0 lead. The lefty batter hit one out 365 feet to the off field for his first homer of the year. He entered today homerless in 95 plate appearances, but he hit a Dean Kremer four-seamer out for the lead.

The O’s first had ended on a flyball double play to center field when Austin Hays was thrown out at the plate. He led off the game with a bloop double to center, moved up a ground ball but was thrown out by Tauchman after catching Anthony Santander’s flyout.

But the O’s would briefly get their first lead of this series when they scored twice in the top of the fourth.

Santander’s homer leading off the fourth tied it 1-1 when he took Taillon deep off a 3-2 fastball at 95 mph. His 10th homer was drilled 404 to right-center to even the score and would have been a homer in 22 of 30 major league parks, including Baltimore.

The rally continued when O’Hearn extended his hitting streak to seven with a single and advanced to second on a walk. Urías smoked a single to left off the glove of Cubs third baseman Nick Madrigal to put the Orioles ahead 2-1. The Birds had the lead and two on with no outs, but Frazier flied out and Josh Lester hit into a double play.

In the home fourth that lead was gone when Christopher Morel hit his 13th homer, a two-run shot to left-center to put the home team up 3-2. Morel hit No. 13 on a 3-1 two-seamer that he blasted 417 feet with an exit velocity of 112.7 mph.

With two outs and none on in the home half of that inning, Cody Bellinger lined a ball into the gap in right-center just ahead of the two-run homer on a liner that O’Hearn got near but could not catch. The play was initially ruled a triple and later changed to an error on O'Hearn. Earlier in Bellinger’s at-bat he hit a foul pop into the Baltimore dugout that first baseman Josh Lester reached for but could not catch. The O’s had two chances for the third out there, but could not make either play. It would cost them two unearned runs.

Adley Rutschman doubled in the ninth to extend the Orioles' lead to 6-3.

Kremer hung out long enough to get the win, improving to 8-3 with a 4.56 ERA. Over five innings he allowed three hits and three runs (one earned) with two walks and seven strikeouts on 92 pitches.

Orioles starting pitchers have not allowed more than three runs for 10 straight games, and in 19 of the last 20 games.

The Orioles have lost back-to-back road series and had dropped five of their past seven on the road, but improved to 22-14 in games away from Oriole Park. Next up is a matchup with the Rays.

Postgame quotes

Hyde on Henderson: “It’s just a stomach flu. Sure he should be okay in a couple of days.” He added that other guys on the team have it too.

Hyde said team took good at-bats in sixth: “Really good at-bats. Just don’t think we had a ton of breaks going our way all series. Had 14 hits and could have had a lot more runs. But really proud of our guys really hanging in there when we didn’t catch any breaks at all this series. So to come out with a win today is huge."

Hyde on a solid day of pitching: “We gave up three hits today and felt like we squeaked one out. Really happy with all of our pitchers today.”

Kremer on outing, and disappointed allowing the two-run HR: “Think it went pretty well overall. Nothing you can really do about an 0-0 homer. It is what it is. Made a mental mistake there in the fourth with an open bag (on Morel's homer), but for the most part, only gave up three hits.

“Just kind of bad execution on my part. I knew I had more to work with, especially with an open base. It’s my fault.”

Kremer on not being swept this year: “Knock on wood, first of all. Second of all, these guys come ready to play every day, every series. If we drop one or drop another one, we’re hungry for that next win.”

Hicks on he and O'Hearn taking advantage of chances with O's: “You know it’s crazy, opportunity just kind of presented itself right after I got (designated for assignment by the Yankees). So, to be able to come here and play every day and play center field has been awesome. Especially with (Ryan) O’Hearn here. He’s been hitting the ball great, putting up really good at-bats and been extremely productive for us. It’s just awesome to be a part of that.”

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