BALTIMORE (AP) — The Baltimore Orioles once again battered Detroit’s shaky bullpen and pushed the Tigers to the brink of playoff elimination.
Pinch-hitter Delmon Young delivered another big postseason hit, lining a three-run double during a four-run rally in the eighth inning that sent the Orioles over the Tigers 7-6 Friday for a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five AL Division Series.
J.J. Hardy made a nifty slide home, touching the plate with his hand barely ahead of the tag, for the go-ahead run. A Camden Yards crowd that saw the O’s fall behind Justin Verlander 5-2 in the early going erupted in an orange wave.
Now Baltimore will try for a sweep in Game 3 Sunday at Detroit, when Miguel Gonzalez starts against the Tigers’ third straight Cy Young winner in David Price.
A day after the Orioles battered Detroit relievers while scoring eight runs in the eighth for a 12-3 win, they came back from a three-run deficit.
Orioles fans cheered when Joba Chamberlain came in to pitch the eighth with a 6-3 lead — the crowd knew that Detroit’s bullpen was beleaguered.
Chamberlain hit Adam Jones with a pitch and gave up a single to Nelson Cruz, setting up Steve Pearce’s RBI single.
Joakim Soria entered and walked J.J. Hardy to load the bases for Young.
Young quickly cleared them with a liner into the left-field corner. J.D. Martinez bobbled the carom for an instant, and Hardy never broke stride in scoring.
Young went 10 for 20 as a pinch hitter during the regular season. He also was the AL championship series MVP in 2012 — for the Tigers — when they swept the Yankees.
In the top of the eighth, baserunning also was a key point. Miguel Cabrera was thrown out at the plate when he tried to score on Victor Martinez’s RBI double with no outs.
Zach Britton got three straight outs for the save.
Soria wound up with the loss.
The defeat left Detroit’s bid to reach the ALCS for a fourth straight year in serious jeopardy. The Tigers wasted home runs by J.D. Martinez and Nick Castellanos, along with a solid start by Verlander.
Rooted on by girlfriend Kate Upton, Verlander left in the sixth with a 5-3 lead. He appeared to try to talk first-year manager Brad Ausmus out of being pulled.
Brad Brach got the win, getting two outs in the eighth after Kevin Gausman allowed one run and three hits in 3 2-3 innings.
Detroit trailed 2-0 before peeling off five straight hits against Wei-Yin Chen. Torii Hunter singled, Cabrera doubled and Victor Martinez delivered an RBI single.
J.D. Martinez and Castellanos hit consecutive home runs, the second day in a row that Detroit’s done it.
Chen lasted only three more batters in his shortest outing since June 28 and left down 5-2.
Baltimore got a run back in the bottom half with a two-out RBI single by Hardy, and the Orioles turned a nifty 5-4-3 double play against Cabrera in the fifth that began with a diving stop by Ryan Flaherty.
Nelson Cruz led off the sixth with a single to chase Verlander. Anibal Sanchez entered, and Cruz advanced on a groundout. But that turned out to be the first of six straight batters that Sanchez retired.
Sanchez had pitched only one inning since Aug. 8 while recovering from a pectoral strain. He led the AL in ERA last year and had been another starter for the Tigers before getting hurt.
The game started shortly after noon, and the sellout crowd of 48,058 had plenty of enthusiasm left from the night before.
The volume decreased, however, after Verlander began mowing down a potent lineup that one night earlier banged out 12 hits in a lopsided victory.
He retired the first eight batters before Jonathan Schoop bounced a single up the middle. Nick Markakis then hit a 3-2 pitch off the roof of the grounds crew enclosure in right field.
A replay confirmed the drive as a home run, ending Verlander’s 32-inning scoreless streak in the ALDS. Markakis’ first homer off the right-hander in 50 career at-bats came on Verlander’s 50th pitch.
The lead didn’t last past the next half inning.
Tigers: The saga of CF Rajai Davis (pelvic strain) took a downturn when he was replaced in the fourth inning by a pinch-runner. The reason for his departure was announced only as “tightness.”
Tigers: Price owns a lifetime record of 7-3 against the Orioles. Cruz is 7 for 19 (.368) with two homers against the left-hander.
Orioles: Gonzalez will make his second career postseason start Sunday, looking for a suitable encore to his performance in 2012 against New York (7 innings, 1 run). He’s 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA in three lifetime starts against Detroit.