Orioles hit four home runs off Wheeler in 8-3 win (updated)

Though it’s true that Corbin Burnes warms up to the Garth Brooks tune “Friends in Low Places,” the ace right-hander also keeps gaining admirers with every start. And some of them are high in the ranks in the Orioles organization.

He’s become so popular that teammates are willing to beat up Zack Wheeler for him.

Burnes registered his 10th quality start in a row, Gunnar Henderson hit his eighth leadoff home run of the season, and Colton Cowser, Adley Rutschman and Jordan Westburg also went deep within the first five innings in a 8-3 win over the Phillies before an announced sellout crowd of 44,525 that pushed the weekend total at Camden Yards to 133,067.

Burnes allowed two runs in six innings and the Orioles headed into their lone off-day of the month at 47-24 and two games behind the first-place Yankees, who play tonight in Boston. They lost the series opener in the 11th and won back-to-back games against the team with the best record in the National League.

Henderson has 22 home runs on the season, and he really had to work for today’s. He got the count full against Wheeler, fouled off three pitches and dropped a sinker into the Orioles’ bullpen at 419 feet – the ninth pitch of the at-bat producing his 10th career leadoff shot. His most recent before today came Monday at Tropicana Field.

Henderson and Cedric Mullins are tied for second place on the team’s single-season list for leadoff homers. Brady Anderson is first with 12 in 1996.

Westburg led off the second with a single and Cowser hit his ninth homer, the ball traveling 443 feet to the center for a 3-0 lead. Cowser tied Ryan Mountcastle for the longest Orioles home run of the season.

James McCann caught Burnes’ last five starts. Rutschman was behind the plate today and led off the third inning with his 14th homer. He showed more restraint. A first-pitch fastball traveled only 412 feet to center.

The Phillies got within 4-2 in the fifth and the Orioles struck back with Anthony Santander’s RBI single and Westburg’s three-run shot to right-center. 

"He just never takes a pitch off," manager Brandon Hyde said of Westburg. "We just had a ton of good at-bats today."

Wheeler gave up six home runs in 87 2/3 innings before today, and the Orioles were the first team to hit more than one. He made two starts this month and allowed two runs in 14 innings. Opponents hadn’t scored more than two runs in nine of his last 10 outings.

The last multi-homer start for Wheeler was Sept. 12, 2023, when the Braves hit three. He never surrendered four until today, and the eight earned runs allowed tied his career high from May 4, 2018.

"One of the best pitchers in the league," Cowser said. "He's got great stuff and I think today we had a good offensive plan and went out and executed it. I think it was just staying in zone with him. I think Gunnar's leadoff AB kind of gave everyone else a blueprint. He was in zone, Gunnar was fouling off pitches, and got one in the heart and hit it out for a homer. I think that's always a great start, especially when you're in the dugout watching that AB."

According to Paul Casella of Major League Baseball, Wheeler is the first Phillies pitcher to allow four-plus homers and eight-plus runs since Vicente Padilla on April 19, 2005. He’s the first to do it on the road since Stan Baumgartner in 1921.

"Incredible," Hyde said. "That pitching matchup today, that's two of the better starters in the game. Unbelievable stuff from both sides. Just, our at-bats, we've come a long way. Our guys, the ability to hit premiere pitching like that is not easy to do, and the at-bats that our young guys especially threw on him, to be able to drive the baseball like that, it's really, really impressive. So really happy with our offense, happy with this whole homestand, how we played, how we competed."

Cowser paused to admire his long fly ball and Wheeler drilled him on the right arm with a 95.8 mph fastball in the fourth. Probably just a coincidence. Wheeler got out of the jam after Ramón Urías singled, but he departed with one out in the fifth.

Mountcastle’s leadoff single in the fifth was his 500th career hit, and he scored after Ryan O’Hearn walked and Santander lined a single into right field. Santander has 18 hits this month, including his two home runs yesterday and three in the series.

Phillies manager Rob Thomson boiled over in the sixth after Stubbs was awarded first base on a hit by pitch and the call was overturned. Plate umpire Mike Estabrook ejected Thomson, who tossed his cap and pointed a finger in Estabrook’s chest and screamed in his face. Estabrook did plenty of yelling, as well. A good ol' fashioned nose-to-nose argument.

Relegated to his office, Thomson missed the flyovers that had Estabrook call time and batters stepping out of the box. Fans on both sides chanted “USA, USA.”

"That was incredible," Hyde said. "I've seen them after national anthems and those types of things, but never where you feel it in your body, how loud it is during mid-inning. It's pretty cool, actually. I didn't want it to disrupt Cionel (Pérez). That's what I was worried about. But to look up in the sky and hear the 'USA' chants ... O'Hearn said that when he heard the 'USA' chant, he punched out because he was so excited he wanted to hit a home run so bad because of how the crowed was reacting to the fighter jets."

"I'll tell you what, I've never felt more American during a baseball game," Cowser said. "I was really hoping I'd be hitting and someone got a picture or something. That would have been pretty cool. Earlier this week they were doing it during early work, and when I saw that first one come through I was like, 'Ah, it looks like we're doing it again.' But I thought it was really cool. Both fan bases kind of came together and started chanting 'USA.' Kind of gave me a little bit of chills."

The danger zone was anywhere that Orioles hitters could get their bat on the ball.

"They've been pretty consistent," Hyde said. "For being a young club, showing up to the park consistently and keeping a good mindset. That loss a couple nights ago was hard, that hurt, and for them to come back and didn't feel like we lost the night before says a lot about what's happening in our clubhouse."

Burnes’ 10 straight quality starts are two short of Jim Palmer’s club record set in 1975. Jeremy Guthrie was the last Orioles pitcher to reach 10 in 2007, and Robin Roberts did it in 1962.

Jack Harshman and Steve Barber strung together 11 quality starts in a row in 1958 and 1965, respectively.

"I just enjoy watching him pitch every fifth or sixth day," Hyde said. "He's just such a pro. And nobody sees the in-between starts, the preparation. What he puts into every start is incredible. He just knows how to pitch. He's got 96 mph cutter and 98 mph two-seamer and keeps the ball down. That's a really, really good lineup he held in check."

"Corbin's great," Cowser said. "He goes out there and gives it his all. He's a professional, he knows what he's doing out there. He understands soft contact, strikeouts, things like that and when to get them. He's always going to keep us in the game."

Bryce Harper singled with two outs in the first inning, stole second base and raced to third on Burnes’ errant pickoff throw. Alec Bohm walked and stole second, but Bryson Stott grounded out on Burnes’ 17th pitch.

Edmundo Sosa led off the second with a single, stole second base and was stranded, and Bohm led off the fourth with a single and was stranded. Burnes had reached 60 pitches and lowered his ERA to 1.99.

The real trouble arrived in the fifth after Garrett Stubbs singled with one out and Kyle Schwarber doubled. Stubbs scored on Nick Castellanos’ ground ball, Harper walked and Bohm delivered an RBI single to cut the lead to 4-2, but Bryson Stott took a called third strike on a pitch that missed outside.

Burnes has made five career appearances against the Phillies and allowed three earned runs in 22 1/3 innings.

"I thought he was really good today. Typical," Hyde said.

"It's a really, really good offense, and what Grayson did last night and what Burnes did today, holding them in check and only giving up a couple runs through six innings. The cutter/sinker with the curveball combo is some of the best stuff in the game. I love how competitive he is on the mound. It's fun to watch two guys who are premiere, premiere pitchers going at it today."

The Phillies scored a run against Pérez in the seventh. Nick Vespi marked his return to the Orioles with a scoreless eighth, striking out two, and Jacob Webb replaced him in the ninth after a leadoff walk.

Two errors helped the Phillies load the bases with two outs and Yennier Cano was summoned to record the final out and his third save.

"It was an awesome environment here," Cowser said. "Their fans travel well. I've never played in a playoff game but it felt like a playoff game. That's what everyone was saying."

The Orioles took two of three games from the Braves and Phillies on the homestand.

"We knew what our schedule was in June, not only the quality of opponents we had but the amount of games we had," Cowser said. "Anytime we can win series against anyone, it's a positive, and I think we showed as a team a lot of complete series wins."

"We left it all on the field for those six games," Hyde said.

They'll need to pick it back up and face the Yankees in three games in the Bronx. That's the reward for a 4-2 homestand and a 16th series win today.

"We get a day off first, which is well deserved and needed for a lot of our guys," Hyde said. "This has been a grind and these guys, I could see them walking off the field how ... they're tired. To go at it the way they have, it's been a tough stretch and we played really well through a really tough stretch, and it doesn't get any easier but nobody's going to feel story for us. This is the big leagues. Now we're going to go to a real cool baseball environment and hopefully play well next series."

* Here are the listed starters for the series at Yankee Stadium:

Tuesday: RHP Albert Suárez vs. LHP Nestor Cortes
Wednesday: LHP Cade Povich vs. TBA
Thursday: LHP Cole Irvin vs. RHP Luis Gil

The Yankees could be reserving Wednesday for Gerrit Cole, who’s made three rehab starts and would be working on regular rest if reinstated from the injured list.

* Dean Kremer made his first injury rehab start with Triple-A Norfolk and allowed two earned runs and five total in 3 2/3 innings, with four hits, one walk and three strikeouts. He threw 59 pitches, 37 for strikes.

Connor Norby committed an error in a four-run fourth for Memphis. He later extended his hitting streak to seven games. Billy Cook doubled and hit his seventh home run. Left-hander Tucker Davidson tossed 4 1/3 scoreless innings.

Norfolk pitcher Jonathan Heasley (right shoulder inflammation) and infielder Errol Robinson (left oblique strain) went on the seven-day injured list.

Double-A Bowie outfielder John Rhodes went 5-for-5 with a home run and six RBIs.

Coby Mayo, still with High-A Aberdeen on his rehab assignment, hit two more home runs today. Carter Young had a three-run shot.

The Orioles transferred right-hander Levi Stoudt’s option from Norfolk to Bowie. Stoudt was claimed on waivers from the Mariners Thursday afternoon.

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