Austin Riley put Atlanta ahead for good with a homer in the fifth inning, and the Braves stretched their winning streak to eight games by beating Baltimore 5-4 Saturday night, the Orioles’ 17th consecutive defeat.
Joc Pederson also homered for the Braves, who have won 15 of 17 to take over first place in the NL East. Atlanta has peeled off 12 straight road wins, a single-season franchise record and the longest run in the majors since Cleveland won 14 in a row in 2017.
The Braves overcame four solo home runs by Baltimore, including two by Anthony Santander. The Orioles’ skid is their second-longest since the team came to Baltimore in 1954, behind the 0-21 start to the 1988 season.
After a run-scoring fly ball in the ninth by Jorge Soler put Atlanta up 5-3, Santander connected in the bottom half. It was the first time Baltimore lost by only one run during the streak. The Orioles have been outscored 146-46 since their last victory on Aug 2.
Ryan Mountcastle and Ramón Urias went deep for the Orioles, who were locked in a tie game before Riley hit his 27th homer off Matt Harvey (6-13) for a 4-3 lead.
Baltimore hit three homers off Drew Smyly (9-3), who struck out eight over five innings. The lefty is 7-0 over 14 starts since April 30.
Luke Jackson struck out Pedro Severino with runners at the corners in the eighth before Will Smith worked the ninth, earning his 27th save despite allowing Santander’s second homer of the game.
After Mountcastle homered in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, Baltimore savored the rare sensation of playing with a lead until the third. Harvey issued a walk and hit a batter before Dansby Swanson doubled in two runs to make it 2-1.
Pederson led off the fourth with a towering shot to center, his fourth home run since being acquired from the Cubs on July 15. Santander and Urias hit successive homers in the bottom half to tie it at 3.
LOPEZ PENNED IN
Struggling Orioles starter Jorge López has been sent to the bullpen to iron out some of the problems that contributed to his 3-14 record and 6.35 ERA. The decision was made after two starts in which Lopez yielded a combined 11 runs, 13 hits and four walks over 5 1/3 innings.
“Just trying something different a little bit,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’re not closing the door on him being in the rotation, but we’d like to see what it looks like coming out of the pen. He’s gone through a lot, and this might take some of the pressure off him.”
López leads the majors in losses. He pitched six innings of one-hit ball against the Yankees on Aug. 2, but that was an isolated gem during a season in which the right-hander allowed at least four runs in 11 of his 25 starts.
QUITE A WEEKEND
Braves catcher Travis d’Arnaud was placed on paternity leave Saturday, one day after signing a two-year, $16 million extension with a club option for 2024. D’Arnaud celebrated the deal with a home run in Atlanta’s 3-0 victory Friday night.
Catcher William Contreras was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and will likely start Sunday, manager Brian Snitker said.
Santander returned to the starting lineup after taking the day off with a sore ankle that might be an issue right up to the end of the season. “It’s disappointing for him,” Hyde said. “It’s one of these things that’s been lingering all season and it’s not probably going to get right until he gets a significant amount of time off.”
Braves: Touki Toussaint (2-2, 4.01 ERA) starts the series finale Sunday. Last year against the Orioles, the right-hander gave up eight runs in 2 2/3 innings.
Orioles: John Means (5-5, 3.44 ERA) threw a no-hitter in Seattle earlier this season, but in his past two starts he’s allowed a total of 13 runs and 16 hits.