BALTIMORE–During their 17-game losing streak, the Orioles have seldom been competitive. On Saturday night, they hit four home runs, including one in the ninth inning, but still lost, 5-4, to the Atlanta Braves before an announced crowd of 15,774 at Oriole Park. It was their only one-run loss during the skid.
The Orioles, who are within four games of equaling the 21-game losing streak of 1988, trailed, 4-3, heading into the ninth. Cole Sulser allowed the Braves to go up, 5-3. Anthony Santander hit his second home run of the game to lead off the ninth to cut the lead back to a run, 5-4. The Orioles (38-84) went quietly after that, and Will Smith earned his 27th save.
On Friday night, the Orioles also played well but lost, 3-0, to the Braves.
“It’s always tough to lose close,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “I think we’ve played pretty good baseball the last two nights. I don’t think we played well for a while.
“We scored our runs on homers. You’ve got to be able to muster some rallies. You’ve got to keep the line moving. We didn’t walk again tonight. It’s hard to string hits together right now.”
Ryan Mountcastle’s 21st home run, which extended his hitting streak to 13 games, gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
“It’s not easy. Losing isn’t fun,” Mountcastle said. “You’ve got to keep forward and keep working hard every day. It’s all you can do.”
A two-run double by Dansby Swanson put Atlanta (67-56) ahead, 2-1, in the top of the third. Joc Pederson’s 16th homer against Matt Harvey increased the Braves’ lead to 3-1.
Back-to-back home runs by Santander, his 11th, and Ramon Urias, his seventh, against Drew Smyly (9-3) tied the score, 3-3, in the fourth.
Austin Riley’s 27th home run gave Atlanta a 4-3 lead in the fifth. Harvey (6-13) allowed four runs on seven hits in 5 1/3.
“I made a couple of mistakes that cost us the game,” Harvey said. “Other than that, I pitched pretty well. I’m happy with it. I’m happy with the stuff that I had.”
Marcos Diplan pitched two innings, allowing a walk. Since joining the Orioles, Diplan has allowed an unearned run on two hits in 11 innings.
After Trey Mancini’s sixth-inning single, the Orioles made eight consecutive outs against Richard Rodriguez, Tyler Matzek and Luke Jackson before Mancini singled with two outs in the eighth. Austin Hays singled Mancini to third, and Pedro Severino struck out to end the eighth.
Atlanta took a two-run lead in the ninth on Stephen Vogt’s single against Sulser. Ozzie Albies doubled on the last pitch of an 11-pitch at-bat. Vogt scored on Jorge Soler’s sacrifice fly.
“When you’re in a streak of bad games like we are, everything intensifies,” Harvey said. “I think we played really good tonight. They just happened to beat us … We’ll come out of it. Hopefully, it’s tomorrow.”
Notes: John Means (5-5, 3.44 ERA) will face Touki Touissant (2-2, 4.01) in the final game of the series on Sunday. … The Orioles have hit back-to-back home runs seven times this season. … Santander’s two home runs were the first he hit right-handed in 2021. His first 10 home runs of the season came batting left-handed. … Santander’s first home run snapped an 0-for-17 streak. … The Orioles’ 17 straight losses equal Arizona’s June losing streak. It’s the longest streak by an American League team since the 2011 Seattle Mariners.
Minor league update: Double-A Bowie outfielders Johnny Rizer, Kyle Stowers and Toby Welk each homered as the Baysox defeated Reading, 5-1, in the first game of a doubleheader.
Gray Fenter, Steven Klimek (4-4) and Morgan McSweeney held Reading to three hits.
David Lebron (5-0) pitched four hitless innings in relief as Bowie swept the doubleheader with a 4-1 win the second game.
Zac Lowther allowed five runs, three unearned, on two hits in 2 2/3 innings in a rehab start in High-A Aberdeen’s 7-5 loss to Wilmington. He struck out five and walked one.
Second baseman Terrin Vavra continued his rehab assignment with a three-hit game.
Colton Cowser, the Orioles’ top pick in the draft last month, drove in the winning run with a 10th-inning single as Low-A Delmarva beat Fredericksburg, 5-4.
Connor Norby, the Orioles second-round draft pick, had two hits and two RBIs.