BALTIMORE (AP) — Ryan Mountcastle doubled in two runs in the sixth inning to put Baltimore ahead for good, and the Orioles got an effective performance from their realigned bullpen in a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Rockies on Saturday night.
Baltimore has won four straight and seven of eight to move 33 games over .500 (81-48) for the first time since the end of the 1997 season. The victory enabled the Orioles to maintain their three-game lead over second-place Tampa Bay in the AL East.
Before the game, Baltimore placed All-Star reliever Félix Bautista on the 15-day injured list with an injury to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Bautista, who has 33 saves and a 1.85 ERA, will undergo further tests before the Orioles determine his status for the remainder of the season.
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 42,935, many of whom came to get a Félix Bautista bobblehead, the Orioles bounced back from an early 2-0 deficit to take the lead in the sixth, and four relievers made the advantage stand up.
After starter Kyle Bradish (9-6) struck out eight in six-plus innings, Danny Coulombe got two outs in the seventh. Jacob Webb closed out the seventh, but allowed two runs in the eighth before DL Hall prevented further damage.
Hall, a rookie left-hander, was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to fill Bautista’s spot on the roster.
All-Star reliever Yennier Cano, who previously was used primarily as the set-up man, got three straight outs in the ninth for his fifth save in 10 tries.
“That’s the story of our team: Next man up,” Bradish said. “I have full confidence in our bullpen. Big arms out there. You can’t replace (Bautista) but you’ve got to fill the gap.”
After Cano got the final out, he was congratulated by Bautista, who’s a good friend as well as a teammate.
“I think my emotions were a little high,” Cano said through an interpreter. “I just wanted to do my best imitation of him.”
Colorado has lost six straight. In the previous five, the Rockies bullpen imploded after Colorado was tied or ahead in the eighth inning. In this one, the breakdown occurred in the sixth.
Starter Chris Flexen (1-6) gave up two singles to open the inning and was replaced by Tommy Doyle, whom Mountcastle greeted with a double into the left-field corner.
Two groundouts brought Mountcastle home, and an RBI double by Anthony Santander made it 5-2 in the seventh against Evan Justice in the lefty’s major league debut.
Colorado’s last four defeats have come by a total of five runs. Manager Bud Black can only hope this serves as a learning experience for his young club.
“In the long term you’ll see it. It’s tough when you’re going through it, because everyone’s competitive and we want to win games,” Black said. “These are close, hard-fought games, and our guys are doing everything they can to win, both on the mound and at the plate. We’re close. This week has been tough in that regard.”
1,000 ON BLACK
Black will manage his 1,000th game with the Rockies on Sunday, joining Clint Hurdle as the only manager in franchise history to reach that lofty number. Black also managed the Padres for 1,362 games and will become the 11th manager to hit 1,000 with two clubs. “Chronologically, it tells you that I’m a little bit older,” the 66-year-old said. “There’s just a gratefulness that I’ve been able to do this for the people who have hired me and had faith and belief in me. I’m very appreciative of that and grateful for that opportunity.”
Rockies: Pitcher Chase Anderson (shoulder) will make a rehab start on Tuesday, and likely one more after that. Black said right-handers Anderson, Ryan Feltner (concussion) and Matt Carasiti (shoulder) are likely the only three pitchers on the injured list capable of returning to the Rockies this season.