Coming off an emotional victory that saw the return of second baseman Brian Roberts from a career-threatening concussion, the Baltimore Orioles look to extend their winning streak to four consecutive games this evening in the second contest of a three-game series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
In the lineup for the first time since suffering his head injury on a slide into first base back on May 16, 2011, Roberts stepped to the plate in the first inning to a thunderous standing ovation and hit a solid single to center.
It was the first of three hits on the night for the former All-Star and his return -- as well as some home runs -- helped spark the Orioles to an 8-6 victory.
"I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't expecting three hits. I was just trying to go out there, as cliche as it sounds, and try to have good at-bats and try to do something that would help us win a game," Roberts said.
Adam Jones also did his part by hitting his 18th homer of the season as part of a four-hit night, ending with a pair of RBI and two runs scored. Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis each clubbed a two-run homer as well.
Wei-Yin Chen surrendered four runs on eight hits and two walks in 6 1/3 innings for Baltimore, which has won five of its last seven games and is tied for second in the American League East with Tampa Bay. Both clubs trail the New York Yankees by a game in the division.
Brad Lincoln was touched for four runs on nine hits and a walk in 4 1/3 innings for the Pirates, who had their four-game winning streak snapped and fell a game behind the Reds for first place in the National League Central.
"We need him to pitch better if he's going to stay in the rotation," manager Clint Hurdle said of Lincoln's performance. "We have the option, if he doesn't pitch better, to put him back in the bullpen. We need to get him back on track."
Neil Walker had a two-run shot and three RBI while Casey McGehee added a solo blast.
Orioles starter Brian Matusz has had plenty of time to try and figure out what went wrong in his last outing, but there is now some doubt as to whether he will be able to make his scheduled start tonight. Matusz suffered a nose contusion when a bunt attempt hit him during batting practice. He is slated to be re-evaluated before the game after X-rays were negative and Baltimore does have some options if it decides to give Matusz some extra rest.
Should Matusz be able to make the start, he'll be looking to rebound from his shortest outing of the season.
Matusz had won four of five starts, pitching at least six innings in the last four games of that stretch, before getting pummeled in Boston last Thursday. The left-hander lasted just two-plus innings and was charged with five runs -- four earned -- on four hits and five walks when all was said and done in a 7-0 defeat.
That forgettable outing came just one start after Matusz had held the Rays to one run over 7 1/3 innings with seven strikeouts.
"I know it is disappointing for him," manager Buck Showalter told Baltimore's website said of Matusz after the Boston outing. "It's hopefully a one-game setback. He'll get the ball again and he'll get an opportunity. It'll be a tough four days for him, because he knows he is better than that, but he knows that takes the wind out of our sails early in the game."
The loss dropped the 25-year-old under .500 for the season at 5-6 with a 4.82 earned run average through 12 starts.
Getting the call for the Pirates will be Kevin Correia, who is 1-0 with a 3.71 ERA in three starts since losing five outings in a row. He allowed at least three runs in four of those defeats.
The right-hander did not factor into a 5-4 win at the Reds on Thursday, giving up three runs on eight hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five-plus innings. Correia twice gave up homers to begin an inning and opened the sixth by yielded three straight singles, the final one plating a run and ending his outing.
Correia is just 2-5 with a 4.29 ERA through 11 starts this season and will face the Orioles for the second time in his career. The 31-year-old beat them on June 22 of last year, allowing three earned runs over six frames of work.
These two clubs have split 10 meetings in interleague play since the Pirates knocked off the Orioles in seven games to win the 1979 World Series.