Baltimore, MD – Concerned about just living a normal life following his concussion 13 months ago, two-time All Star Brian Roberts returned to the Baltimore Orioles lineup on Tuesday.
He stepped up to the plate in the opening frame to a thunderous standing ovation and fittingly registered one of his three hits on the night, a solid single to center.
Roberts' season debut, plus a four-hit performance from Adam Jones, which included his 18th homer of the season and a pair of RBI and runs scored, sparked the Orioles to an 8-6 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates in the opener of a three-game interleague series.
Roberts sustained the concussion while sliding into first base during a game against the Boston Red Sox on May 16, 2011.
"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.
Wei-Yin Chen (6-2) 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. Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis each clubbed a two-run homer.
Brad Lincoln (3-2) 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.
"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.
After the Pirates cut the Baltimore deficit to 4-2 in the sixth on McGehee's opposite-field solo shot to right, the Orioles broke the game open with a four-run home half.
With runners on the corners and none away, Roberts lifted a sacrifice fly to right. J.J. Hardy then ripped an RBI single to right before Davis belted a two-run shot to right-center for an 8-2 Baltimore advantage.
Walker's RBI groundout and Andrew McCutchen's sacrifice fly made it 8-4 in the seventh while Walker's two-run blast cut the deficit to 8-6 in the ninth.
But Jim Johnson came on and struck out McCutchen then got McGehee to ground out to third, ending the game and giving Johnson his 19th save of the year.
Earlier, the Pirates plated a two-out run to get on the board in the opening frame when Matt Hague slapped an RBI single up the middle.
Baltimore, though, grabbed the lead with a pair of runs in the second, and a run apiece in both the third and fifth frames.
In the second, Jones laced a leadoff double and three batters later, Reynolds, mired in an 0-for-12 slump, launched a belt-high curveball into the seats in left-center.
Jones fisted a flare that fell into left-center for a run-scoring single with two away in the third and then launched a towering solo shot over the wall in left in the fifth for a 4-1 Orioles margin.
The Orioles are 15-2 when Jones hits a homer this season...The 34-year-old Roberts has not played a full season since 2009 and has .281 average and 84 home runs in his 11-year career...The last time the Orioles and Pirates were both at least five games over .500 at the same time was October 4, 1992.