Orioles squander two-run leads in ninth and 11th before winning 7-6 in 12th (updated)

WASHINGTON – Kyle Bradish backed up home plate in the second inning and glanced at his glove, as if checking whether a hole had gone undetected.

That isn't where the leak would spring later in the night.

Trey Lipscomb’s one-hopper made it past Bradish, who reached across his body and rested the glove on his right shoulder as the ball bounced into center field for a run-scoring single.

The Orioles were behind again in D.C. Bradish finished the inning at 44 pitches, stranding two runners by fielding Jacob Young’s high chopper and striking out CJ Abrams. But he’d need to become more economical to get deep in his second start since his reinstatement from the injured list, and the Orioles would need a rally to avoid their first series sweep in the regular season since May 2022.

Anthony Santander hit a game-tying home run in the fourth inning and Gunnar Henderson provided a lead leading off the sixth. Bradish struck out nine batters in five frames and became the pitcher of record. It was setting up ideally until closing again became a major issue.

It had turned into something else entirely. Extra innings and additional concern about Craig Kimbrel. A hole growing in the back end of the bullpen. But ultimately, a win.

The Nationals scored twice in the ninth to tie the game after Kimbrel retired the first two batters. Both teams were shut down in the 10th, Ryan Mountcastle hit a two-run homer off close friend Hunter Harvey in the 11th, Albert Suárez allowed an RBI double to Ildemaro Vargas and sacrifice fly from Young in the bottom half to create another knot, and the Orioles scored twice off Jordan Weems in wild fashion in the 12th for a 7-6 victory before an announced crowd of 34,078.

The teams combined for seven runs in the last two innings. Normal wasn't an option.

"I'm not sure how I'm feeling right now," said manager Brandon Hyde. "I'm happy we won, but that was quite a game. There was a lot of stuff that happened the last four or five innings. Proud of our offense, the way we kept going. ... A lot to unpack there. Definitely relieved we won the game."

"We've done this the past two years," Bradish said. "I think we never get down on ourselves and we know we're in every single ballgame no matter what."

Suárez retired all three batters in the 10th to strand the automatic runner. Jacob Webb handled the 12th and surrendered a run on Luis García Jr.’s leadoff double, after Jorge Mateo singled in the top half to plate Jordan Westburg, raced to third base on fielding and throwing errors on the play, appeared to injure himself but stayed in the game, and came home on a wild pitch.

"Jorgie with the single that turned into a Little League triple to a wild pitch. Big run for us," Hyde said.

"Honestly, it was super special just because we were able to win the game finally," Mateo said via interpreter Brandon Quinones. "We scored and then they scored and they kept fighting. It was a really hard-fought game."

The split improved the Orioles' record to 24-12 and extended their streak to 103 series.

"From the moment the game starts," Mateo said, "we always have a lot of confidence that we're going to win the game."

Mateo bent at the waist after coming out of his slide at third base, and Hyde and head athletic trainer Brian Ebel checked on him. He did a mini-jog up the line, stayed in the game and scored an important insurance run.

"I just felt like I lost my air a little bit," he said, "but thankfully I feel a lot better."

Mountcastle launched a first-pitch splitter into the bullpen with Henderson at third base as the automatic runner. That seemed like it would be sufficient, but this game should have come with a breathalyzer. 

Kimbrel surrendered a two-out homer to Eddie Rosario and walked Lipscomb and Young before Keegan Akin replaced him. Akin was warming as pinch-runner Nasim Nuñez stole second base and Young drew a free pass, and Kimbrel failed again to record his 426th career save and gain sole possession of fifth place on the all-time list.

Abrams followed a wild pitch with an RBI single into right field, denying Akin his third career save and the first since 2022.

Kimbrel hasn't completed the ninth inning in four of his last five appearances and he's blown three saves in that span.

"We're going to stick with him," Hyde said. "This guy's got a big-time track record, he's a Hall of Famer, and we need to get him right because he's big for us. It's important that we get him right."

"I think he's going to be fine, man," Webb said. "He's a Hall of Famer in my book and being around him every day and watching what he does, I think we have all the confidence in the world."

Webb toughened after the RBI double and got a strikeout and two fly balls to right field for his second save of the season.

"I'm just trying to come in and shut it down," he said. "Tough situation regardless, but I was glad I was able to complete it.

"You just try to reset from your memory as quick as possible and try to get the next out."

"Ended up winning us the game," Hyde said. "Webby's come through quite a few times. He was up a couple times already earlier in the game, and so that's why Suárez got a shot there. I thought Suárez threw the ball well. Got kind of a back-side double there that hurt, but Webby sucked it up for us again."

Henderson’s 11th homer came on a slider from Nationals rookie left-hander Mitchell Parker and tied him briefly for the major league lead. The crowd and at least part of the press box were fooled by it.

Rosario never saw the ball until it landed in the right field seats. He stood frozen with his arms spread out, then turned to watch the final result. Henderson, meanwhile, struck a pose that exuded confidence in it.

Bradish allowed one run and four hits with two walks but was denied his first win since Sept. 26, 2023, also against the Nationals. He’s fanned at least nine batters in six of his 55 major league starts, with a career high of 11.

The finish tonight was strong. Bradish struck out the side in the fifth inning to leave him at 90 pitches, six more than he threw in 4 2/3 in his season debut against the Yankees.

"I think I was still kind of fighting myself mechanically," Bradish said, "but was able to make pitches when I needed to, limit hard contact. So it's another step in the right direction."

The Nationals were the right opponent. Bradish has faced them three times and surrendered only one run in 19 innings.

Bradish’s velocity climbed in the first, which began with a single and hit-by-pitch. He struck out Nick Senzel and Jesse Winker to end the inning, and his last two pitches, both sinkers, were clocked at 98.1 and 97.3 mph.

"The velocity was great, the movement's awesome," Hyde said. "Just a little bit inconsistent, which was expected of a guy that, it's his second start in the big leagues this year. But his stuff was amazing and I thought he really battled through five innings."

Joey Meneses led off the second with a walk and Keibert Ruiz lined a single into center field. Rosario struck out, but Lipscomb gave the Nationals a 1-0 lead with his single on a 95.3 mph sinker.

The Orioles are 15-2 when scoring first and they came close to doing it with two outs in the top of the second inning. Colton Cowser doubled to the left field fence, but Westburg was thrown out at the plate, with Abrams on the relay. Westburg had reached on a fielder’s choice after Santander’s leadoff walk.

Santander’s sixth home run of the season was the first allowed by Parker in his fifth major league start. He pulled a down-and-in slider 416 feet at 109.6 mph off the bat for the Orioles first run of the series.

Their last time scoring came on Santander’s grand slam in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game in Cincinnati. That shot was against a right-hander, but he began tonight batting .172/.217/.368 off them compared to .300/.420/.525 versus lefties.

Santander saved the go-ahead run from scoring in the bottom of the fourth by chasing down Lipscomb’s fly ball in right-center with one out and Ruiz on second base after a single and wild pitch. At that point, the Nationals were 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Westburg led off the seventh with a double, moved to third on Mateo’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Cowser’s line drive to Winker for a 3-1 lead. This time, the throw home was late and Cowser had his RBI.

Yennier Cano got a 6-3 double play in the seventh after a leadoff single, but Young walked and Hyde brought in left-hander Cionel Pérez to face Abrams, who flied out.

Senzel walked with one out in the eighth and Henderson turned another 6-3 double play, this one on a caught line drive from Winker.

The four outs from Pérez set up Kimbrel and dramatics that seemed improbable after the first two batters.

"Stressful, but it was fun," Bradish said. "It's free baseball. We were able to pull out a W."

* Jackson Holliday hit his third home run with Triple-A Norfolk and first since being optioned, a solo shot to break a 2-2 tie in the third inning.

Kyle Stowers and Billy Cook had sacrifice flies in the first inning after three walks loaded the bases with no outs. Connor Norby hit his eighth home run, Nick Maton hit his third and Daniel Johnson belted his fifth and sixth.

Terrin Vavra went 3-for-5 with two RBIs as the designated hitter with High-A Aberdeen. Creed Willems hit his seventh home run.

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