Brantley's big game helps Indians top Orioles

Jeff Seidel, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Orioles starter Zach Britton kept the Indians quiet through the first five innings. However, Michael Brantley helped the Indians change things in the sixth.
Brantley tied a career-high with four RBIs, giving Cleveland the lead with a two-run single in the game-changing three-run sixth and later adding a two-run homer as the Indians scored a 5-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles Monday night at Camden Yards.
Brantley finished 2-for-4 as the Indians (39-36) won for the fifth time in six games and handed the Orioles (42-35) a fourth consecutive defeat.
Britton (1-2) limited the Indians (39-36) to five hits in the first five innings as the Orioles had a 2-0 lead, but everything turned around in the sixth.
"One thing is guys are facing [Britton] for the third time," Brantley said. "You've kind of seen him a little bit. We're major league hitters. You've got to make adjustments. And I feel like the team did a great job making adjustments tonight and just kind of getting to him the third time around."
In the sixth, the first five Indians batters reached base. Jason Kipnis started things with a lead-off double and scored when Nick Swisher followed with a single to center.
Carlos Santana doubled him to third, and Britton (1-2) intentionally walked former Oriole Mark Reynolds to load the bases. Brantley then ripped a shot back through the box for a two-run single that gave the Indians the lead for good at 3-2.
Brantley helped bring in two more runs in the eighth against Darren O'Day. Reynolds led off with a single, and Brantley then homered to right-center. That scored Brantley and pinch-runner John McDonald for a 5-2 lead.
Hitting well with runners in scoring position is nothing new for Brantley. He was 1-for-1 in that role in this game - and came into the contest with a .345 average with runners in scoring position this season, tops in the starting lineup. The four RBIs tied a career high Brantley's achieved twice before, once this year and once in 2011.
"He doesn't change his approach," Indians manager Terry Francona said. "He doesn't try to do too much. He just stays with his same approach, and he's a good hitter. You don't see him overswing very often."
Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Britton clearly struggled in the sixth in a way he hadn't before.
"Just elevated some balls, lost his command," Showalter said. "He got out of some...sticky situations, but I thought he pitched well for five innings. But he wasn't able...different stuff showed up there in the sixth."
The Indians took advantage of that different stuff, which proved to be enough for Indians starter Ubaldo Jimenez (6-4). He gave up two runs and scattered eight hits over 5 1/3 innings, escaping some early jams and working his way out of trouble a few times.
Jimenez allowed solo homers to Nick Markakis in the first and Matt Wieters in the fourth to give the Orioles that 2-0 lead. But the right-hander hung in and kept Cleveland close.
"It's a really tough lineup," Jimenez said. "I was telling myself just relax, even when I got the bases loaded, when they hit the home runs, just keep attacking the strike zone."
The Cleveland bullpen then took care of the rest. Rich Hill, Bryan Shaw and Joe Smith combined for 2 2/3 shutout innings in relief before Vinnie Pestano closed it in the ninth for his fourth save.
The Orioles made it interesting in the ninth when Ryan Flaherty walked and Nate McLouth singled to bring up the tying run. But shortstop Mike Aviles made a leaping catch of a Manny Machado liner to end it.
"We played a good ballgame," Francona said. "We beat a very good team. It's one of the best lineups we've seen yet this year."
NOTES: The Orioles optioned right-hander Freddy Garcia to Triple-A Norfolk and recalled rookie pitcher Kevin Gausman. Garcia got roughed up Sunday in Toronto, giving up seven runs in 2 1/3 innings. He was 3-5 with a 5.77 ERA in 11 games (10 starts) with the Orioles and had lots of problems with consistency. The Orioles picked Gausman in the first round of last year's draft, and he went 0-3 in five starts earlier this season...Markakis' first-inning home run was his first round-tripper since May 31 against the Tigers...The Indians recalled left-hander T.J. House and optioned right-hander Carlos Carrasco before the game. House's first appearance will be his major league debut...Drew Stubbs of Cleveland extended his hitting streak to six games when he singled in the third inning.

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