Baltimore gets 3-2 win over Astros behind homer from Jones
HOUSTON (AP) Adam Jones impressed Baltimore manager Buck Showalter more with his baserunning than his go-ahead home run in the eighth inning.
Two innings before Jones put the Orioles ahead to stay in a 3-2 win over the Houston Astros on Thursday, he singled and stopped short to evade the tag and a double play on Chris Davis' grounder.
Jones scored the tying run on a single by Steve Pearce, a ball that rolled out of the diving reach of both third baseman Luis Valbuena and shortstop Marwin Gonzalez.
''We talk about it in the spring a lot, but some guys don't execute it,'' Showalter said. ''If he doesn't stop at second base, we don't score that other run. Those are the little things that baseball players do, and Adam is an extremely talented guy.''
Jones said first base coach Kirby Wayne was unhappy with him for not sliding on the play, but it worked out in the end.
''It's the small things that add up to be big things and this team we've got to be efficient in order to win games,'' Jones said. ''And today we proved we were efficient. We played good defense and was able to hold off a pretty good lineup.''
With the score 2-2 in the eighth inning and two outs, Jones, who finished with three hits, drove a pitch from Chad Qualls (1-3) into the Crawford Boxes in left field. Jones has five hits in his last two games following a 0-for-12 slump.
''You could easily fold in this game and just give things away,'' Jones said. ''But if you prepare yourself and have a mindset of: `I'm going to get the job done,' good things happen.''
Wei-Yin Chen yielded two runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings with a season-high nine strikeouts. Darren O'Day (2-0) struck out two in one inning and lowered his ERA to 0.89, and Zach Britton got four outs for his 14th save in 15 chances, stopping Baltimore's five-game losing streak.
Hank Conger had a home run and a double for the Astros, who at an AL-best 34-21 are off to the best start in franchise history.
Showalter was ejected in the second inning by umpire Brian Gorman after going to home plate, gesturing and yelling at him. His ejection came after Ryan Flaherty struck out after two called strikes.
''My mother probably thought it was bad,'' Showalter said of his ejection. ''We had a great point. They were obviously balls. What are you going to do? This guy (Keuchel) certainly doesn't need any help, that's for sure.''
Bench coach John Russell took over after the ejection.
Houston starter Dallas Keuchel matched his shortest start this season at six innings after consecutive complete games. He allowed two runs and six hits with seven strikeouts.
Houston had runners at first and third with no outs in the sixth inning, but Chen retired the next three batters, striking out two.
''In those situations with men on base all I was trying to do was stay calm and keep the ball down and don't let them do damage,'' Chen said through a translator. ''So I think I was happy about how I performed in those situations.''
Houston put runners at the corners with no outs in the seventh. O'Day replaced Chen with one out and walked pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus before to load the bases before striking out George Springer and retiring Jose Altuve on a flyout.
''We need to find a way to scratch a run across and get some momentum on our side,'' manager A.J. Hinch said. ''Some missed opportunities there and it's unfortunate because the game was there to win.''
Davis' RBI single put Baltimore ahead in the first, Hank Conger's homer run tied the score in the third and Valbuena's sacrifice fly put the Astros ahead 2-1 in the fourth.
ANOTHER GOOD DAY BY O'DAY
O'Day hasn't allowed a run in six straight appearances and 19 of 22 this season. His 0.89 ERA is fourth among relievers in the AL.
Orioles: SS J.J. Hardy didn't start for the fourth straight game with soreness in his left side, but came in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning. ... C Matt Wieters, who had Tommy John surgery last June, is expected to be activated from the disabled list to start on Friday. ... Starter Bud Norris (bronchitis) is expected to return from the disabled list to start on Sunday.
Orioles: The Orioles open a three-game series at Cleveland when Chris Tillman opposes Shaun Marcum. Tillman will look to bounce back after allowing nine hits and six runs in just 4 2/3 innings in his last outing.
Astros: Houston travels to Toronto to start a three-game series with right-hander Roberto Hernandez opposing Aaron Sanchez. Hernandez has struggled in his last two starts, allowing 17 hits and 12 runs combined.