The Baltimore Orioles couldn't get a hit through six innings, and still managed to take a one-run lead into the ninth.
It could have been a memorable victory. It turned out to be a lamentable defeat after the Cleveland Indians scored two ninth-inning runs to win 4-3 Wednesday night.
A leadoff double in the seventh by Manny Machado was the only hit allowed by Scott Kazmir, who gave up one unearned run in seven innings. He came out to the mound for the eighth but left with back spasms before throwing a pitch.
Baltimore promptly scored twice against Joe Smith (4-0) to take a 3-2 lead, but the Indians rallied against Orioles closer Jim Johnson (2-6) in the ninth.
After Michael Brantley drew a leadoff walk, Jason Giambi hit his 400th career double. An intentional walk loaded the bases for Lonnie Chisenhall, who hit into a run-scoring fielder's choice. Drew Stubbs also hit into a fielder's choice to bring home pinch-runner Mike Aviles and chase Johnson.
"That whole inning started with that four-pitch walk," Johnson lamented. "Been walking too many guys this year. I'm not going to shy away from saying it, so I need to do better with that part."
Instead of winning a second straight, the Orioles lost for the fifth time in six games. Baltimore wasted a solid pitching performance by starter Jason Hammel, who allowed two runs and four hits in seven innings.
After Kazmir left, the Orioles took the lead in the eighth against Joe Smith (4-0). An infield hit by J.J. Hardy, a walk to Chris Dickerson and a single by Alexi Casilla loaded the bases with one out for Nick Markakis, who drove in a run by hitting into a fielder's choice. Machado then lined an RBI single off the left-field wall for a 3-2 lead.
Johnson, who had given up only one run in his previous 14 appearances, couldn't maintain the advantage. It was his fifth blown save.
"Jimmy's been solid for us," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's a rock."
The back-and-forth ending didn't deflect the attention from Kazmir, who was perfect for four innings and retired 18 of the first 19 batters he faced. This, in spite of a quirky back that was getting tighter as the game moved on.
"He was fighting them for probably three innings," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.
It was a tough way for Kazmir to end a night in which he pitched magnificently.
"It's something that's just more frustrating and irritating than anything," the left-hander said. "The start of the third inning, it seemed like it started tightening up quite a bit. The later innings it got a lot harder."
After Machado singled in the seventh, a wild pickoff attempt by Kazmir preceded a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis.
And then, in the eighth, Kazmir was gone. Jones worked an inning and Vinnie Pestano got three outs for his fifth save.
"This was one of those games where it would've been just a killer loss and ends up being a great win," Francona said.
Jason Kipnis homered for the Indians, who improved to 2-34 when trailing after eight innings.
The start of the game was delayed 66 minutes by rain, and both pitchers seized control from the outset.
Activated from the disabled list before the game, Cleveland's Asdrubal Cabrera became the first player to reach base when he was hit by a pitch from Hammel in the fourth. Kipnis followed with his 11th home run, the second in two nights, for a 2-0 lead.
Kazmir officially retired the first 13 batters before issuing a four-pitch walk to Matt Wieters in the fifth, although replays showed a sliding Machado beat out a fourth-inning grounder despite being called out by first base umpire Will Little.
The Indians put runners at the corners with two outs in the fifth before Hammel retired Michael Bourn on a grounder. In the Cleveland seventh, Stubbs looked at a third strike with two outs and runners on second and third.