BALTIMORE (AP) — The odds favored Miguel Gonzalez in the fifth inning of a tie game against the Seattle Mariners.
Although Gonzalez was pitching against perennial All-Star Robinson Cano with runners on second and third, Baltimore’s right-hander had an uncanny record of success against Seattle’s talented slugger.
On this occasion, however, past performances meant nothing. Cano’s three- run homer was the key blow in a 6-3 win over the Orioles on Saturday night.
Before that pivotal at-bat, Cano was 2 for 23 lifetime against Gonzalez (5-6). He drove a split-finger fastball over the wall in right field to put the Mariners up 4-1, and the Orioles never recovered.
“I had success with it throughout my career against him,” Gonzalez said. “So I decided to throw that pitch. But it just stayed up, middle.”
When Cano gets his bat on a mistake of a pitch, the results are usually predictable — regardless of who throws it.
“He was sharp,” Cano said of Gonzalez. “It was only just that pitch that, he just threw it middle of the plate and I was able to make a good swing.”
It was his eighth home run of the year, the first in 15 games since July 12.
Gonzalez allowed four runs in five innings after allowing a total of six runs in his previous four starts.
“Really made one mistake,” Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.
Caleb Joseph homered and Manny Machado had three hits for the Orioles, whose previous seven games were decided by one run.
Coming off a 14-week stay on the disabled list with a strained back muscle, Seattle starter James Paxton gave up two runs in 4 1-3 innings.
Relievers Dominic Leone (4-2), Brandon Maurer, Yoervis Medina, Charlie Furbush and Fernando Rodney followed with a combined 4 2-3 innings of four-hit ball.
With the score 1-all in the fifth, Austin Jackson got his first hit with the Mariners, a single. He took third on a double by Dustin Ackley and scored when Cano hammered the 1-1 offering from Gonzalez.
“It cost us the game,” Joseph said.
In another situation, perhaps Cano would have received a free pass. But given the numbers …
“Just trusting Miggy there,” Showalter said. “He’s made a lot of good pitches and had a lot of success against him, and it just didn’t work out.”
Joseph homered in the bottom half to hasten Paxton’s exit.
Morales made it 6-2 with a two-run single in the ninth. Pinch-hitter Ryan Flaherty singled in a run in the bottom half, but Rodney retired Machado with two outs and runners on the corners.
Paxton faced only two batters before falling behind. Nick Markakis drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double by Machado.
Ackley tied it in the third with his sixth home run, the first of his three hits.
Mariners: Seattle placed DH Corey Hart on the 15-day DL with a bruised right knee.
Orioles: First baseman Chris Davis did not start because he’s still feeling the effects of a stomach virus, Showalter said. Davis was in an 0-for-11 skid before flying out as a pinch-hitter in the eighth.
Mariners: Seattle calls upon right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5), who has a 32- 16 lifetime record but allowed four runs over seven innings in a loss to Baltimore last week.
Orioles: Chris Tillman, who began his professional career in the Mariners organization, seeks to go 6-0 lifetime against Seattle. He’s 6-0 on the road and 1-5 at home.
BACK IN ACTION
Paxton hadn’t pitched since April 8, so even though he didn’t make it through five innings there was cause for optimism.
“We thought he would be a little bit pumped up, over-amped a little bit and probably a little rusty,” McClendon said. “Once the game got going, I thought he was extremely efficient. The breaking ball started to come around.”
So did the fastball.
“As he got his lather going, you saw the velocity go up to 98, and we started to feel pretty good.”
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