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Closer Zach Britton sets record in Baltimore Orioles' win over Houston Astros

By
Todd Karpovich, The Sports Xchange
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton reacts after delivering a pitch. File photo by David Tulis/UPI
Baltimore Orioles relief pitcher Zach Britton reacts after delivering a pitch. File photo by David Tulis/UPI | License Photo

BALTIMORE -- In a season in which he missed two months with injuries, Baltimore Orioles closer Zach Britton still managed to make history.

Britton broke the American League record for consecutive saves, Adam Jones tied a career high with four hits, and the Orioles avoided a three-game sweep by the Houston Astros with a 9-7 victory Sunday.

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Britton threw a scoreless ninth inning to pick up his first save since April 14 and sixth of the season. He also converted his 55th consecutive save opportunity, topping the mark set by Tom Gordon from 1998-99 with the bBoston Red Sox.

"I think it just feels good to put together an outing where I actually felt like I was more myself than anything. I think maybe it took a two-run ballgame to do that," said Britton, who spent time on the DL with a left forearm strain. "Just get the focus back off the delivery and trying to be too fine. Just kind of let it rip."

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Houston, which has the best record in the American League, lost for just the second time in the past 13 games against the Orioles.

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Houston's Nori Aoki tied the game 6-6 with his three-run shot off Orioles starter Dylan Bundy in the sixth. Miguel Castro entered for Baltimore and allowed a go-ahead sacrifice fly to Josh Reddick.

Mark Trumbo tied the game 7-7 with a lead-off homer in the seventh off Chris Devenski.

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Ruben Tejada and Adam Jones singled in the eighth off Luke Gregerson (2-3) before Manny Machado managed a sacrifice fly to deep center. Jonathan Schoop provided a 9-7 lead with a two-out RBI single.

"It was so hot and humid, seems it would keep puddling sweat in your hand," Gregerson said. "It was just a really hard time getting a true grip on the baseball so my sliders cutting across the plate instead of dropping like they should be. Fastball was cutting a little more instead of sinking."

Mychal Givens (7-0) got the win with a scoreless eighth, and Britton closed out the game with a pair of strikeouts and a grounder.

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"When everybody knows what you're going to do and you still do it, Zach throws in a little wrinkle here and there to keep them guessing for the next advance scout," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

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Jose Altuve tied a career high with four hits, including a homer. He also extended his hitting streak to a career-high 15 games.

"We won the series, that's the good thing," Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. "We had our opportunities. I like the big innings that we had, coming back from their big innings."

The Orioles took a 3-0 lead in the second when Houston starter Lance McCullers loaded the bases on a single, walk and hit batter. McCullers then hit Hyun Soo Kim to force in the first run. The second run scored on a double play by Tejada before Jones had an RBI single.

Altuve tied the game with a three-run homer off Bundy in the third. Bundy allowed seven runs on eight hits with three walks and two strikeouts over 5 1/3 innings.

Baltimore retook the lead, 4-3, in the bottom half on an RBI single by Trey Mancini.

Houston had an opportunity to tie the game in the fifth but Altuve was thrown out at home by Tejada on a sharp grounder by Yuli Gurriel. That proved costly as Baltimore added two runs that inning on a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis and an RBI double by Mancini that ended McCullers day.

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McCullers allowed six runs on nine hits over 4 2/3 innings. It was also the third straight game McCullers didn't last past the fifth.

NOTES: Houston INF Colin Moran was placed on the 10-day disabled list after he suffered a facial fracture from a deflected inside pitch during Saturday night's game, the team announced. INF Tyler White was recalled from Triple-A Fresno to take Moran's spot. ... Orioles OF Hyun Soo Kim made his first career start as a designated hitter. ... Houston RHP Will Harris (right shoulder bruise) played catch Sunday. The next step is to throw from a slope and then a bullpen session.

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