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(Saturday, May 31st)
Final Score: Baltimore 4, Houston 1
Houston, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - Nelson Cruz finished with two hits, including a solo homer, and drove in three runs as Baltimore topped Houston, 4-1, in the third test of a four-game set.
Steve Pearce added an RBI walk, while J.J. Hardy and Manny Machado contributed two hits apiece for the Orioles, who put an end to a four-game skid that included the first two games in the series.
Chris Tillman (5-2) pitched into the seventh, allowing a run on four hits with three strikeouts and two walks to post his first victory since May 16. Zach Britton tossed a scoreless ninth for his fourth save.
"We all needed this one; not just him," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "As much as we talk about quality pitching against us, our guys have done a good job as well."
Robbie Grossman knocked in the lone run for the Astros, whose seven-game win streak came to a halt.
Dallas Keuchel (6-3) gave up six hits and three runs along with three walks in six full frames.
Tillman was out after 110 pitches, exiting with two down and one on in the seventh with the Orioles holding a 3-1 lead. Ryan Webb entered and retired Jose Altuve on a grounder to first to maintain Baltimore's two-run margin.
Cruz began the eighth with a long homer to left center which gave the O's a 4-1 edge, which Webb protected with a perfect eighth.
"I'm in the zone right now," said Cruz, who leads the majors with 20 home runs.
In the ninth, Britton allowed a leadoff hit to Matt Dominguez, but pinch- hitter Jesus Guzman fanned and Chris Carter grounded into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Nick Markakis began the game with a double, moved up on a groundout and scored on a Cruz fly to center.
Jason Castro doubled to kick off the home second, then Tillman hit both Dominguez and Alex Presley to load the bases with one out. Houston only emerged with a tie, however, after Grossman's infield hit plated Castro. Marwin Gonzalez then popped out and Altuve flied out.
The Astros also came up empty with two on and two down in the third, but the Orioles came away with two runs in the fifth in a similar situation.
Machado and Caleb Joseph both singled and Markakis drew a base on balls. Keuchel's control continued to waver, as he walked Pearce to force in Machado and then Cruz to bring in Joseph.
"I just didn't have a good feel out there. Maybe my sights were a bit low or outsides. After those two runs, the momentum was clearly in their favor," noted Keuchel.
Baltimore improved to 8-12 in day games and 20-3 this season when leading after seven innings ... The Orioles also upped their record to 19-8 when scoring at least four runs ... Cruz extended his club record for home runs in the month of May to 13, while the O's finished the month with 37 long balls ... Despite the loss, Houston finished May with a 15-14 record, their first winning month since going 14-13 in September of 2010.
05/31 21:46:25 ET