PHOENIX — Innings like that can sink a team.
The Orioles led 4-2 to begin the fifth Sunday, but a questionable call by the umpiring crew sparked a game-tying rally by the Arizona Diamondbacks. Baltimore made sure the ruling didn’t matter, though, scoring four runs in the sixth en route to an 8-5 victory for a series win.
Cedric Mullins, Adley Rutschman and Jordan Westburg each delivered RBI hits in the sixth, and the Orioles’ bullpen followed starter Jack Flaherty with 4 1/3 solid innings.
In the fifth, Flaherty induced a potential ground ball double play, but the play ended with zero outs still on the scoreboard. Shortstop Gunnar Henderson fielded the ball on the second base side of the bag, ran to tag base runner Geraldo Perdomo and threw the ball to first, but Perdomo avoided the tag and Corbin Carroll was safe at first.
Perdomo appeared to run out of the base path on the play, but second base umpire Tom Hanahan ruled he didn’t. The play was reviewed to see if Henderson made the tag, but whether Perdomo was out of the base path isn’t a reviewable play in MLB.
Ketel Marte then hit an RBI single to cut the Orioles’ lead in half, and a wild pitch by Flaherty brought in the tying run. Flaherty limited the damage by getting Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to fly out and Evan Longoria to strike out, and left-handed Danny Coulombe stranded a runner on second with an inning-ending groundout.
A day after scoring six runs on seven straight hits in a win, the Orioles put up another crooked number to bounce back from the fifth. Ryan O’Hearn led off with a 104.9 mph double off Diamondbacks starter Zac Gallen, a contender for the National League Cy Young Award, and scored on a single from Mullins.
Mullins’ ground ball deflected off the glove of Marte, who was playing on the infield grass at second base with O’Hearn on third. After a Ramón Urías single, Westburg pinch hit for Adam Frazier against left-handed reliever Kyle Nelson and smacked an RBI double down the left field line.
Rutschman then doubled the Orioles’ advantage with a two-run double that ricocheted off first baseman Pavin Smith’s glove into the outfield.
Left-handers Danny Coulombe and Cionel Pérez and old friend Jorge López each pitched scoreless innings. Yennier Cano, filling in as the Orioles’ closer for the injured Félix Bautista, allowed a solo home run to former Oriole Christian Walker before slamming the door in the ninth. The earned run was the first Cano surrendered since July 31.
Baltimore (85-51) has won eight of its past 11 games and is 28-13-3 in its 44 series this season. The series win is the Orioles’ first at Chase Field, which opened in 1998 when Arizona was granted an NL expansion team, in five tries.
The win keeps the Orioles 2 1/2 games ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays atop the American League standings with 26 contests remaining.
Flaherty’s start Sunday was an important one for the right-hander and the team. John Means will likely return to the Orioles this upcoming weekend when his minor league rehabilitation assignment ends, potentially adding another arm into the six-man rotation mix. Flaherty is also one of several veteran starters vying for a spot in the club’s rotation in the postseason, should it qualify.
But the base runner ruling that altered the course of the fifth inning also marred Flaherty’s start, making it difficult to judge. In his first four innings, Flaherty allowed four hits, two runs on solo homers to Gurriel and Carroll, and struck out six. But he left the mound without completing the fifth and four runs to his name.
In five starts since Baltimore traded three of its top 20 prospects to the St. Louis Cardinals for him, Flaherty has a 6.66 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 24 1/3 innings. He’s failed to record a quality start since his first outing in Toronto.
Baltimore’s bats provided four runs to Flaherty in the first two innings with a pair of two-run singles — the first from O’Hearn to open the game, the next from Gunnar Henderson in the second.
Around the horn
— First baseman Ryan Mountcastle was in the lineup Sunday after missing the first two games of the series. Manager Brandon Hyde said Saturday that Mountcastle was feeling “under the weather” but wouldn’t say whether the symptoms were related to vertigo, with which the slugger missed a month earlier this season.
— Switch-hitter Anthony Santander was also in the lineup after exiting Saturday’s contest in the ninth when he was hit by a 94.7 mph fastball on the right hand. Santander was initially scared but is happy he has “pretty good bones in my hand,” he said with a laugh Sunday morning. “Never want to see a guy get hit there,” Hyde said. “I don’t want to see anyone get hit anywhere right now, makes me nervous. Whenever it’s a hand situation, there’s so many bones in the hand with not much protection. Definitely dodged a bullet there.