BALTIMORE (AP) — By the slimmest of margins, the Baltimore Orioles still haven’t been swept in almost 15 months.
Adley Rutschman and Ryan Mountcastle homered, Félix Bautista worked through another shaky ninth inning and the Orioles extended their streak to 76 series without being swept, edging the Houston Astros 5-4 on Thursday.
It was 5-3 when Bautista, who allowed a grand slam to Kyle Tucker on Tuesday night to lose that game, came on to pitch the ninth. Jose Altuve’s one-out double and Alex Bregman’s walk allowed the go-ahead run to come up, but catcher James McCann caught Yordan Alvarez’s foul pop, holding onto the ball as he lost his balance and fell.
Tucker then drew a walk to load the bases, and Yainer Diaz followed with a line drive to the left side. Third baseman Ramón Urías made a dive for it and couldn’t catch it, but he did prevent it from going all the way through and only one run came home.
“I think Bregman and Tucker and Alvarez, I think they hit every inning,” Baltimore manager Brandon Hyde said. “I’m just going to check and see if they were hitting out of order, because I feel like they hit eight times a game.”
Bautista finally retired Jon Singleton on a popup for his 31st save in 37 chances.
“Honestly, it was good for him,” McCann said. “That’s a playoff atmosphere, that’s a playoff team over there.”
After dropping the first two games of this series, the Orioles set the tone early in the finale. Urías made a diving stop on Altuve’s grounder leading off the game, and Rutschman put Baltimore ahead with a drive to left leading off the bottom of the first.
Left fielder Ryan O’Hearn and second baseman Adam Frazier made terrific defensive plays for the Orioles in the fifth, and Mountcastle’s two-run shot in the seventh made it 5-2.
Now AL East-leading Baltimore heads out on a nine-game western trip with stops at Seattle, San Diego and Oakland.
Dean Kremer (11-4) allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings. Hunter Brown (8-8) allowed five runs and eight hits in six innings.
Diaz homered in the second for Houston, and Altuve went deep in the seventh. Altuve also singled and doubled twice.
Mauricio Dubón blooped an RBI single in the eighth for Houston, but Yannier Cano was able to work out of that inning.
The Orioles have gone 76 straight series of at least two decisions without being swept. That’s the fifth-longest streak in major league history — according to information from the Elias Sports Bureau distributed by the Orioles — and the longest since the St. Louis Cardinals set the record of 124 from 1942-44.
The previous sweep against Baltimore was at Detroit from May 13-15, 2022.
Baltimore took a three-game lead in the AL East over Tampa Bay when the Rays lost to St. Louis later Thursday.
Houston fell to 2 1/2 games behind first-place Texas in the AL West.
Urías tripled to lead off the Baltimore third and scored on McCann’s single. Rutschman made it 3-1 with a run-scoring single in the sixth after McCann doubled.
Houston was unlucky not to score in the fifth. O’Hearn made a nice catch before slamming into the wall in left on a drive by Jeremy Peña. Then, with men on first and third and two out, Frazier made a diving stop on the hardest-hit ball of the day — a sharp grounder by Alvarez with an exit velocity of 115.2 mph, according to Statcast.
The game started 13 minutes late because of rain.
Houston left 11 runners on base, and the Orioles left zero. Baltimore went 3 of 3 with runners in scoring position and had two men caught stealing. The Orioles also had a runner thrown out trying to advance on a pitch that got away from the catcher a bit.
MADRIS HEADED BACK TO SUGAR LAND
The Astros outrighted infielder/outfielder Bligh Madris to Triple-A Sugar Land after he cleared waivers. The team designated him for assignment on Tuesday.
Orioles: Baltimore’s bullpen took a hit before the game when LHP Danny Coulombe (biceps tendonitis) went on the injured list, retroactive to Wednesday. The Orioles recalled RHP Joey Krehbiel from Triple-A Norfolk.
Kyle Gibson (11-6) starts for Baltimore on Friday night against Seattle’s Luis Castillo (7-7).
Houston returns home to face the Los Angeles Angels, with Justin Verlander (6-6) taking the mound for the Astros against Reid Detmers (2-8).