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Published September 13, 2015
When closer Jim Johnson walks to the mound in the ninth inning with the Baltimore Orioles ahead, the outcome is all but decided.
For 35 straight games, Johnson came through in save situations. On the 36th such occasion, the right-hander finally gave a lead away.
Chris Denorfia and Everth Cabrera hit two-out RBI singles off Johnson in the ninth, and the San Diego Padres got a home run from Carlos Quentin in a 3-2 victory Tuesday night.
After the Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the eighth, Johnson (1-3) entered to try and secure the win. He gave up two consecutive singles before getting Jedd Gyorko to hit into a 6-4-3 double play. But Denorfia followed with a single up the middle and, after Johnson hit Nick Hundley with a pitch, Cabrera singled to center for a 3-2 lead.
Johnson hadn't blown a save opportunity since July 27, 2012, against Oakland. His streak of 35 broke the previous team record of 34, set in 1997 by Randy Myers.
"I really didn't put a whole lot of stock into it," the right-hander said. "It was just something you guys like to talk about."
He blamed his reversal of fortune on poor location.
"As soon as I got off the field I looked, and pitches were in different spots than they're normally at," Johnson said. "It's about execution. At this level the talent is too good. You have to execute and tonight I didn't and wasted a good effort from a lot of guys on this team."
His teammates couldn't remember the last time he blew a save.
"It was the first time I'd ever seen it happen," said second baseman Ryan Flaherty, who played all last season with Baltimore. "That was incredible. He comes in the game and it's 1-2-3, and the game's over and everyone goes home. So, you get accustomed to that. You got a couple of balls that went through, and that's going to happen."
San Diego won after losing three straight in Tampa Bay, despite holding the lead in the fifth inning or later in each game.
"To get to (Johnson) is a great accomplishment for us," Padres manager Bud Black said. "Those are great on the road, they really are, to snatch one back when they took the lead."
Cabrera's hit was the 60,000th in Padres history.
Luke Gregerson (2-2) got the last out in the eighth and Huston Street earned his ninth save. The Padres were 0-18 when trailing after eight innings.
Street gave up a game-ending homer in the ninth against Tampa Bay on Saturday, so he was determined to make things right.
"The one in Tampa frustrated me more than any save in my life," Street said. "I took a lot of responsibility for not making those pitches. It bugged me, so tonight was one I really wanted."
He then said something that Johnson can take to heart.
"You can come back and get it done," Street said. "That's what this game is all about. It's bouncing back. It's just moving on to the next day and making the next pitch. You make the next pitch and good things will happen."
Flaherty homered for the Orioles, who fell to 18-2 when leading after eight.
With the score tied at 1 in the eighth, Flaherty drew a one-out walk from Andrew Cashner and was replaced by pinch-runner Alexi Casilla. After Cashner threw to first base several times to check the runner, Casilla took off for second. The throw from Hundley came up short and bounced into the outfield, allowing Casilla to reach third on the error.
Steve Pearce followed with a line-drive single to left to chase Cashner, who matched a career high by working 7 1-3 innings.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman allowed one run, four hits and two walks in seven innings. Although the right-hander wasn't involved in the decision, he lowered his ERA to 3.40 and remained unbeaten since April 17.
It was the first meeting between the teams since 2010 and first in Baltimore since 2002. The series is tied at 5.
Quentin led off the second inning with a drive to left to put the Padres up 1-0. San Diego then loaded the bases with two outs before Tillman struck out Cabrera.
Flaherty tied it in the third with an opposite-field fly that dropped into the front row of the left-field seats. It was only the second home run off Cashner in his five starts this season.
In the sixth, Quentin's bid for another home run was denied by center fielder Adam Jones, who made a leaping catch at the top of the 7-foot wall.
NOTES: The Orioles placed LHP Wei-Yin Chen (strained right oblique) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled RHP Alex Burnett and INF Yamaico Navarro from Triple-A Norfolk. ... The Padres have hit 20 homers in their last 15 games. ... Orioles LHP Tsuyoshi Wada, recovering from elbow ligament replacement surgery, will make his first rehabilitation start Thursday for Norfolk. ... Jason Marquis (4-2) starts for the Padres against Freddy Garcia (0-1) in the series finale Wednesday afternoon. ... Of the 47 home runs Tillman has allowed in his career, 32 have been solo shots.