BALTIMORE—During the Orioles’ current four-game winning streak, they’ve been gifted with three straight quality starts, and had Grayson Rodriguez gotten another out, they would have had four. On Saturday night, Tyler Wells pitched brilliantly to make sure that streak continued.
Wells pitched seven outstanding innings, allowing just one hit to Carlos Santana leading off the second on the way to a 2-0 Orioles win over the Pittsburgh Pirates before an announced crowd of 21,296 at Camden Yards.
The win gave the Orioles a series win, their ninth in the last 10 series, and put them 13 games over .500 for the first time since the end of the 2016 season.
After Santana’s single, Wells plowed through the Pirates (21-19), retiring 17 straight until he walked Santana with two outs in the seventh.
Wells walked Jack Suwinski, and Miguel Andújar hit a long fly ball to right field that Anthony Santander leaped and caught at the wall in the web of his glove. Santander’s brilliant catch saved two runs from scoring.
“Whenever I saw hm catch it, I blacked out, lost my mind and then gave him about as many hugs as you can give a guy,” Wells said. “I definitely owe him a nice, fat steak, maybe a whole cow after that catch.
“I can’t say enough about that catch. Obviously I was pumped up, but everyone else out there was just making great plays. It instilled a lot of confidence in me to go out there and do my job and know that even if I give up some contact, I know that I have a great group of defenders back there to protect me.”
Wells (3-1) equaled his career high with seven innings and struck out eight, a career high, throwing 96 pitches.
“Other than the two walks in the seventh, I would probably say it was the best one of my major league career,” Wells said. “I felt like I had good command. I felt like I had everything back in order, what I was struggling with the last couple of starts.”
The Orioles (26-13) got their runs on home runs by Adley Rutschman, his sixth, with one out in the first, and Gunnar Henderson, his fourth, with two outs in the second, against Roansy Contreras (3-4).
“I’ve hit a lot of balls hard here in the past few games and I’m just glad to see some of them start falling,” Henderson said.
Henderson has played third base every day since Ramón Urías strained his left hamstring on Monday night. He made a nice stop on Ji-Hwan Bae’s hard shot to begin the eighth.
“Being able to play there every day and getting used to that position, it just takes a little bit of time,” Henderson said.
Fredi González was managing in place of Brandon Hyde, who was attending his daughter Aria’s graduation at Syracuse University, and he received a congratulatory text from Hyde when the game ended.
He was enjoying himself watching Wells, but when he walked the two batters with two outs in the seventh, he remembered how much of a rush he had gotten from 10 years of managing the Marlins and Braves.
González turned to third base coach Tony Mansolino. “’You can’t get this feeling I’m having right now anywhere else,'” he said.
He has seen Wells pitch over the last three season and admires his improvement.
“I’ve seen him grow almost every start, the mentality of being a starter, wanting to stay in the game, not satisfied by throwing five or six innings, wanting to get the ball in the seventh,” González said. “It’s nice to see from a young starter.”
Yennier Cano allowed a one-out double to Tucupita Marcano, the first extra-base hit he has allowed this season, in the eighth.
Félix Bautista allowed a leadoff single to Bryan Reynolds in the ninth and then struck out Connor Joe, Santana and Suwinski for his 10th save. He also struck out the side on Friday night.
The Orioles have four shutouts, and won the game in just two hours, four minutes.
“Games like that, they’re just smooth,” Wells said. “It feels like it’s clockwork. You get out there, you get three outs, you come back in and it feels like every five minutes, you’re back out there. It was easy to stay in that routine.
“It’s the best way to pitch. It’s my favorite way to pitch, and hopefully we have a few more outings like that. It doesn’t always go that way. I think you saw that in the last couple of outings that I had, and I’m really happy about this one.”
Notes: Kyle Gibson (4-2, 4.40) will face Mitch Keller (4-1, 2.72) on Sunday at 1:35 p.m. … The first 15,000 fans 15-and-older will receive Orioles crossbody bags.
Minor league update: Third baseman Jordan Westburg and designated hitter Josh Lester hit two-run home runs as Triple-A Norfolk outlasted Jacksonville, 13-10.
Westburg has 10 home runs and had three RBIs. Lester hit his ninth and had four RBIs.
Eight relievers pitched for Norfolk, which is 28-9.
Double-A Bowie lost to Harrisburg, 3-2, in 10 innings despite not allowing a hit after the fourth inning. Infielder Noelberth Romero homered.
Second baseman Frederick Bencosme drove in two runs as High-A Aberdeen lost to Hudson Valley, 6-2.
Catcher Samuel Basallo hit a two-run home run, his fourth, and leftfielder Stiven Acevedo homered in Single-A Delmarva’s 5-4 loss at Down East.
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB