MILWAUKEE – Kyle Gibson struck out Brice Turang on a curveball to end the bottom of the first inning and didn’t break stride on his way back to the dugout. He blew past catcher Adley Rutschman, who tried to meet him along the third base line and had to reach out to give him an encouraging pat.
The 35 pitches thrown and two runs allowed didn’t give Gibson much incentive to linger on the field.
With two outs in the eighth inning, reliever Yennier Cano snared a comebacker with an exaggerated snap of his glove, threw to first base and shook his head in disgust. Cano had his own frustrations, unable to hold onto a one-run lead.
By the end, players were filing into the clubhouse with a few heads bowed.
The Orioles couldn’t score against Peter Strzelecki in the top of the 10th, with pinch-hitter Josh Lester striking out to leave two on base, and Joey Wiemer singled off Austin Voth with two outs to bring home Andruw Monasterio and give the Brewers a 4-3 victory before an announced crowd of 22,535.
Rather than notch their 21st comeback win, the Orioles fell to 37-23 overall and 2-2 on the trip. The Rays won tonight and increased their division lead to 5 ½ games.
Félix Bautista struck out the side on 11 pitches in the ninth, but he didn’t return for the 10th, keeping him available Wednesday night. Wiemer lined a 1-2 curveball from Voth down the left field line for the walk-off.
"If we scored there I was bringing him back out there," said manager Brandon Hyde. "If we scored one I was going to send him back out, but with a tie game there, I just didn't want to chase a win on the road in an extra-inning like that with Bautista and lose him for a couple days.
"Tough decision, but Voth did a great job until he hung that breaking ball there at the end."
The Orioles have been erasing deficits and bad moods, but not tonight.
Gibson didn’t have much time to stew over his struggles in the first. Aaron Hicks hit a two-run homer off Freddy Peralta in the top of the second, and Gibson got into a groove, working through the fifth inning and keeping the score tied.
Ryan O’Hearn homered off Joel Payamps in the seventh inning to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead, but Cano surrendered the tying run on Turang’s single that scored Blake Perkins.
Cano inherited runners on the corners with two outs in the seventh and got a called third strike on Brian Anderson, but a leadoff walk to Perkins and stolen base cost him dearly.
O'Hearn felt like the lead was safe based on past bullpen performances.
"The guys at the back end have been pretty much shutdown all year, but it happens. It's part of the game," he said. "And when they tied it up I still had plenty of confidence we were going to come back and get them. Just the way this one shakes out. But I thought overall we played well and we just didn't come away with it."
"I think anytime those guys give up a run, it's surprising," Gibson said.
"Those guys are really good down there. They're going to give up runs every now and then and that's how it's going to be. Our offense always has confidence in them."
O’Hearn is finding it easier to crack the lineup with opponents rolling out right-handed starters and Gunnar Henderson day-to-day with a sore lower back. He had two more hits tonight, including his third home run, on a Payamps sinker with the count 3-1. O’Hearn took three consecutive changeups for balls and cleared the fence in left-center field.
"Big hits for us, taking really good at-bats," Hyde said. "That was a loud sound going the other way like that. Huge hit to give us a lead at that time. We just couldn't add any more runs."
"I had a pretty good feeling I was going to get a fastball from Payamps," O'Hearn said. "Kind of the same swing we've been working on in the cage. Staying through the ball, driving it to left field. I had no idea where the ball went. I was just focusing on kind of staying through it, and I didn't realize it was up in the air and had a chance to get out until a couple steps into my jog, but a really good swing, happy with that one.
"Playing in Milwaukee was cool for me because I've got a lot of family here, so it's good to hit a homer in front of them."
Hicks lined a curveball from Peralta into the right field seats for his first home run with the Orioles and his first overall since May 8, prior to the Yankees releasing him. Hicks delivered his sixth hit in 12 at-bats since replacing the injured Cedric Mullins as the center fielder.
Wiemer sprinted into right-center field in the third and grabbed a Hicks line drive on the warning track, clocked at 103.6 mph, that would have produced two more runs. Adam Frazier and Hays singled before Hicks batted.
Second baseman Luis Urías made a diving catch to rob Hicks and end the eighth inning after Rutschman led off with an infield single.
Gibson failed in his attempt at a seventh quality start, with Hyde removing him after Brian Anderson’s leadoff walk in the sixth. Gibson has allowed six runs in 24 2/3 innings his last four outings, and his ERA is 3.87 for the season.
Some length was made possible tonight with an eight-pitch third and a nine-pitch fourth. Gibson struck out the side in the fifth on 14 pitches.
"Just kind of shows you the pro he is," Hyde said. "Gives up two in the first and does not have his command, yanking a lot of pitches. I'm a hitter away from having somebody up in the first inning because the pitch count was getting so high. Fortunately for us, he found it from that second inning on and pitched extremely well into the sixth inning.
"We pitched well tonight. We just didn't score enough runs."
Gibson received a visit from pitching coach Chris Holt in the first after consecutive two-out RBI singles by Anderson and Abraham Toro. Gibson hit Urías to load the bases and struck out Turang.
The inning also included Christian Yelich’s leadoff double and a one-out walk to William Contreras.
Gibson retired 13 of 16 batters after hitting Urías. Turang tripled into the right field corner with one out in the fourth and was stranded when Hays charged Wiemer’s fly ball and made a sliding catch, and Yelich grounded out.
"Shoot, I don't know that I can throw a 3-2 slider better than I threw it to Anderson on the first bloop that he hit in there," Gibson said. "That's a team that doesn't swing at balls a whole lot. They do a really good job of making you throw pitches in the zone, and they don't necessarily chase a whole lot early in the count, so they make you work pretty hard. If that ball can go my way there, obviously that changes that first inning a little bit.
"What was really good was the offense did a really good job of having a longer top of the second, and it allowed me to rest a little bit. I think that goes a long way for a pitcher, whether it's a bullpen guy or a starter, when your offense goes out there and puts together some long at-bats. It just gives me a chance to take a little breather. Between that and trusting the fact that what I was doing was the right plan, and making the little adjustments that we needed to, Adley and I did a pretty good job of navigating there the next four, and the offense did a good job of getting us back in it."
Luis’ older brother, Ramón, struck out four times and is 2-for-25 since leaving the injured list.
Anderson walked in the sixth and Mike Baumann replaced Gibson, who threw 96 pitches and allowed two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts. Baumann walked Turang with two outs and got out of the jam.
Three of the strikeouts came on Gibson’s curveball, but he also got two with his sinker and one each with his changeup and sweeper.
Yelich led off the seventh inning with a single off Danny Coulombe and stole second and third base. Rowdy Tellez walked with two outs and Cano entered.
Frazier had a career .311 average against the Brewers before tonight, the third highest among active players, according to STATS. He also doubled off Peralta with one out in the fifth but was stranded. Anthony Santander struck out for the third time.
Peralta struck out nine batters in five innings, didn’t issue a walk and threw 98 pitches.
Fifty-three of the Orioles' 60 games have been decided by four runs or fewer.
"I think it's good because we're used to being in those situations, the high-pressure and high-leverage innings and big moments and stuff," O'Hearn said. "That prepares you for the postseason, I would say. So, I think the more we can experience that and get comfortable doing that, then the better for us. But obviously, it would be nice to have a blowout every now and then."
* Catcher Maverick Handley reported to Double-A Bowie and hit a home run tonight, a two-run shot in the second inning. César Prieto had three hits, including a double, and four RBIs. Coby Mayo went 2-for-3 with a double, two walks and two runs scored.
Chayce McDermott allowed one run and three hits in five innings, with one walk and seven strikeouts.
Jud Fabian hit his seventh home run for High-A Aberdeen, a three-run shot in the second inning. Silas Ardoin and Jacob Teter drove in two runs. Jackson Holliday went 1-for-3 with an RBI, two walks and three runs scored.
Cooper Chandler tossed five scoreless innings with two hits allowed and Kyle Virbitsky followed with four scoreless innings and only one hit.
Pitcher Nolan Hoffman moved down from Bowie to Aberdeen.
Single-A Delmarva’s Carter Young went 5-for-5, with all of his hits singles. Juan Nunez tossed five scoreless innings, with three hits and six strikeouts.
Zac Lowther threw an inning with the Florida Complex League Orioles on an injury rehab assignment and allowed one run and two hits.