CINCINNATI – The Orioles rallied to pull out a close game in the late innings in the series opener on Friday night and for most of today, it looked like the team might need something similar in the series finale against Cincinnati at Great American Ball Park.
They were locked in a scoreless duel with Reds top pitching prospect lefty Nick Lodolo. And then they fell behind by two runs. They would get even but they would not get their win.
Brandon Drury's 20th homer of the year was a solo shot with two outs in the eighth off the O's Félix Bautista and that lifted the Reds to a 3-2 win in the series finale.
Drury hit a 1-2 splitter that just had enough to go out in left at 372 feet to snap the 2-2 tie and give the Reds the series win.
Bautista's 1.50 ERA was among the best for relievers as he took the mound today.
"I wanted it a little bit lower than it was," Bautista said via interpreter Brandon Quinones of the split that found the bottom of the strikezone. "I know I left it up a little bit. It was still a good pitch in my opinion, but I have to give credit to the hitter. He did a really good job of hitting that pitch.
"I have to keep looking ahead and going forward. This is part of the game, but I can't dwell on it and I have to keep moving forward and stay positive going forward."
The Orioles (51-51) lost two of three here and now head to Texas for the second leg of the six-game road trip.
Down 2-1 to the eighth inning today, hot-hitting Anthony Santander hit a line drive homer to right-center for a 2-2 tie. He drilled a 96 mph fastball from Alexis Díaz that left the bat at 107 mph. It was No. 19 on the year for him.
"Huge hit," manager Brandon Hyde said. "We did not swing the bat well this whole series. A 2-1 game and he tied it up. I thought the momentum was swinging our way at that point, but we didn't score after that."
That made Santander 7-for-12 this series, with two homers and four RBIs. And he is batting .395 (17-for-43) during an 11-game hitting streak with four home runs and 10 RBIs.
Santander pulled the O's even but Drury put them back behind as they fall to 22-31 on the road and to 15-18 in one-run games.
The O's offense just didn't produce enough, scoring four runs the last two days and they needed the rally in the ninth to pull it out on Friday.
"We didn't do much offensively until he (Lodolo) was out of the game," Hyde said. "He's got a good arm and is a good-looking young starting pitcher."
The skipper added that the O's offense has to help out its bullpen and pretty soon.
"We're not doing them any favors. We're not scoring. You have to be able to score, get a lead and add on. We're just not doing enough offensively honestly to help out our pitching. Got to do a better job and take better at-bats," he said.
After O’s starter right-hander Austin Voth threw five scoreless today in a duel with Lodolo, the Reds broke through against the O’s bullpen in the sixth to take a 2-0 lead. Righty Bryan Baker came on and walked the first two batters he faced, Jonathan India and Donovan Solano. After Tommy Pham lined out and India took third, O’s manager Brandon Hyde went for lefty Cionel Pérez to face Joey Votto with runners on first and third and one out.
Votto worked the count full and went with the pitch to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. His ground single to left on a 3-2 slider scored India for the lead. A walk loaded the bases and a sac fly by shortstop Kyle Farmer gave Cincinnati the 2-0 lead with both runs charged to Baker.
O’s pitchers walked three in an inning where the Red needed just one single to produce two runs to get the lead.
Voth gave the Orioles the five scoreless today on just four hits – all singles – and threw 77 pitches, 53 for strikes. He did not walk a batter and fanned six. The five innings matches his longest Orioles outing and he needed 70 pitches to go three innings his last time out.
It was another solid appearance for the Orioles by Voth. In his O’s-only outings this year, Voth lowered his ERA to 2.84 in 11 games, seven starts.
"I love starting," Voth said. "Pitching every five days and having a routine and building up for that start. Being able to pitch multiple innings. I love it."
His outing was so good he never faced a situation with two runners on base and no Reds batter made it to second base against him. Although Votto was held to a long single when he hit one off the wall in center field in the fourth.
The O’s finally scored in the top of the seventh to pull within 2-1. Lodolo walked Ryan Mountcastle and got the hook. Rougned Odor pinch hit and singled off reliever Joel Kuhnel. A fly out and sac fly by pinch hitter Cedric Mullins followed for the O’s first run. But with Odor on second and two outs, Trey Mancini fanned against Alexis Díaz to end that threat.
The Orioles could not get much going on offense early on against Lodolo. Ranked as the club’s No. 2 prospect he is also a top national prospect, rated No. 22 on the top 100 by Baseball America and No. 25 by MLBPipeline.com. Today he was showing a two-seamer that touched 96 with an, at times, swing and miss curveball.
The Orioles did hit some balls on the button. Ramón Urías grounded to third in the second at 108 mph and Donovan Solano made a nice play to his left. Mancini, batting leadoff today, lined out to left to end the Baltimore third on a ball he stuck at 107.
The O’s missed a big chance in the fourth. With one out, Anthony Santander singled to left to extend his hitting streak to 11 games and Austin Hays walked. But Urías popped to second and Mountcastle flied out to short right field. A Robinson Chirinos lineout that ended the fifth was hammered at 105 mph off the bat.
Lodolo’s final line showed one run and four hits allowed six innings plus one batter on 98 pitches.