BALTIMORE (AP) — A commanding lead had been reduced to one run during a wild ninth inning, and the Houston Astros found themselves turning to their closer to hold off the Baltimore Orioles.
In the end, the best team in the American League found a way to win — again.
Rookie Yuli Gurriel had a career-high four hits, including a home run, and the Astros squeezed out an 8-7 victory on Friday night to end Baltimore’s four-game winning streak.
Houston took an 8-2 lead into the ninth before Adam Jones hit a two-run double off James Hoyt and Jonathan Schoop homered with two on against Chris Devenski.
After Chris Davis was thrown out trying to bunt against the shift, Ken Giles struck out Mark Trumbo to earn his 21st save.
“It was a mess of an inning from the beginning,” Astros manager A.J. Hinch said. “They obviously put some good at-bats together. It can happen fast in this park.
“All’s well that ends well with a win — albeit a stressful one in the end.”
Colin Moran hit his first major league homer and first triple for Houston, and Brian McCann also went deep.
Working in 90-degree temperatures on a steamy night at Camden Yards, Mike Fiers (7-4) threw 105 pitches over seven innings. The right-hander struck out nine, including Jones three times, and allowed one run and six hits.
“My hands were getting a little moist there. It was kind of hard to grip the ball a little bit,” Fiers said. “I just had to find a way to get through.”
Coming off a four-game sweep of the Texas Rangers, the Orioles hoped to continue their surge against baseball’s other team from the Lone Star State. Instead, Baltimore fell behind 5-0 in the second inning and dropped four games under .500.
The Orioles did, however, make a game of it.
“We don’t ever roll over. That’s just not who we are,” Davis said.
Davis is in the lineup to hit home runs, which left him open for criticism after he bunted against Devenski in the ninth inning of a one-run game.
“Honestly after the first couple of pitches, I just felt like I wasn’t really seeing the ball well,” Davis said. “I saw him more over, and I went for it.”
Ubaldo Jimenez (4-6) gave up six runs and 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings. In four starts this month, he’s yielded 21 runs and 31 hits over 19 innings.
“I guess I’m leaving a couple pitches up and they’re making me pay for it,” he said.
Houston used a two-out RBI single by Carlos Beltran and Gurriel’s 12th home run to take a 3-0 lead in the first. Moran tripled in a run and scored on a groundout in the second.
Jimenez has allowed 32 runs in the first two innings of his 15 starts. Although he settled down in this one, the early deficit was too much for Baltimore to overcome.
McCann homered leading off the sixth and Moran’s first long ball in the big leagues came in the eighth inning, a solo shot off Richard Bleier.
Houston finished with 16 hits, at least one from every starter.
Astros bench coach Joey Cora left the team to be with his newly expanded family after his wife gave birth to twins Friday. He is expected to miss this series and will rejoin the team Monday in Philadelphia.
Astros: RHP Dallas Keuchel (neck) will make perhaps his final rehab appearance Saturday, this time with the Class A Tri-City ValleyCats. “We will certainly consider this being his last time. He’s itching to get back at this level,” Hinch said.
Orioles: INF Ryan Flaherty (shoulder) will accompany the team to Tampa Bay next week and could start playing rehab games on Thursday. He’s been out since mid-May.
Collin McHugh makes his 2017 debut Saturday night for the Astros after being shelved with right shoulder tendinitis and making four rehab appearances with Double-A Corpus Christi. After Friday’s game, Houston optioned LHP Raymin Guduan to Triple-A Fresno to make room for McHugh on the roster. Orioles right-hander Chris Tillman (1-5, 7.20 ERA) tries to build on his last start, when he allowed one run in six innings against Texas. Tillman is winless since his season debut on May 7.