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Craig Kimbrel blows save as Orioles fall to Athletics, 3-2, in 10 innings

BALTIMORE — The Orioles were three outs away Friday night from improving to 6-0 in games started by Corbin Burnes, but closer Craig Kimbrel had trouble recording them.

Kimbrel entered with a one-run lead in the ninth against the visiting Oakland Athletics, hoping to slam the door and continue the stellar start to his Orioles tenure. But he allowed all five batters he faced to reach base — on two doubles and three walks — and blew his second save as an Oriole.

Heroics from Keegan Akin, who stranded the bases loaded in relief of Kimbrel, kept the score tied, but Baltimore’s bats couldn’t score in the ninth or 10th in a 3-2 loss.

It appeared reliever Jacob Webb would continue Akin’s success by retiring the first two batters of the 10th, including a groundout that led to the automatic runner being tagged out between third and home. But a two-out double by Brent Rooker scored Shea Langeliers to give the Athletics (11-16) a one-run lead.

The Orioles (16-9) couldn’t score their automatic runner, as Athletics closer Mason Miller retired the side in order, including strikeouts of Colton Cowser to lead off the inning and Gunnar Henderson to end the game, to secure the victory.

Another beauty from Burnes

The Orioles acquired Burnes in the offseason with the hopes that an ace atop their rotation would elevate the club to new heights. Whether that happens remains to be seen, but Burnes’ first month with the club suggests it very well could.

Burnes pitched six innings of one-run ball to put Baltimore in a position to win, which would’ve moved him to 4-0 on the season and the Orioles to 6-0 in games he’s started.

Perhaps the most miraculous part about the early returns of the Burnes trade is that the 29-year-old right-hander has yet to pitch as well as he’s capable. His 2.55 ERA is stellar, but he’s pitched into the seventh inning and struck out more than six just once apiece.

More of those gems — such as his 11-strikeout opening day and his seven-inning win in Boston — are coming. But just as important as Burnes dominating games is him giving the Orioles a chance to win every time he toes the rubber.

Burnes did that again Friday, striking out six while scattering three hits and three walks.

Around the horn

— Outfielder Ryan McKenna said he is “excited” to be back with the Orioles. “The Orioles have been really good to me,” McKenna said. He joined Baltimore before Friday’s game after the club optioned Jackson Holliday to Triple-A amid the 20-year-old’s early struggles. McKenna, a mainstay with Baltimore over the past few seasons, was the choice over prospects Connor Norby and Coby Mayo because of the absence of Austin Hays, also a right-handed hitting outfielder. McKenna was designated for assignment at the end of spring training but remained in the organization after passing through waivers.

— Right-hander Kyle Bradish (sprained ulnar collateral ligament) made the third start of his minor league rehabilitation assignment Friday, pitching five innings of one-run ball for Triple-A Norfolk. Bradish sat 92 to 94 mph on his fastball — similar to his 2023 velocity — while striking out six and walking only one across 77 pitches. Manager Brandon Hyde said earlier this week that the club wanted Bradish to build up to five innings and around 80 pitches before scheduling his return to Baltimore. He could still make a few more rehab starts if the Orioles want him to, but it appears his 2024 major league debut is nearing.

— Left-hander John Means, who began his offseason throwing regimen a month late to recover from his late-season flare-up last year, will make the final start of his rehab assignment Sunday for Norfolk. Means built up to 4 1/3 innings and 79 pitches during his most recent rehab start, but he has a 13.89 ERA during his assignment. The veteran’s rehab stint cannot extend past Monday, meaning he will likely rejoin the Orioles early next week unless he is still injured. Reliever Cionel Pérez will also continue his rehab assignment this weekend in Norfolk, the Orioles said.