BALTIMORE — Manny Machado watched the previous two games from the bench, and he didn’t much like the view.
In his return to the Baltimore Orioles’ lineup Sunday, Machado enjoyed a far better sight: A ball soaring off his bat and over the 25-foot scoreboard in right field.
Machado and Nelson Cruz homered, Steve Pearce had three hits and the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians 4-2 for a split of the four-game series.
During a 13-inning game Thursday night, Machado was pulled because of a right groin strain. He sat down Friday, then again Saturday before returning to his customary No. 2 spot in the lineup in the series finale.
After a first-inning walk and a third-inning strikeout, Machado hit an opposite-field drive to right against Trevor Bauer (1-2) to put Baltimore ahead 3-2 in the fifth. As soon as the ball cleared the fence, Machado celebrated his second homer of the season with a joyous fist-pump.
“It was just the adrenaline rushing,” he said. “I thought the ball was going to be off the wall, and then obviously the ball kept carrying. My emotions came out a little bit.”
The 21-year-old Machado missed April after undergoing offseason knee surgery and was batting .229 with one homer and three RBIs before connecting. As frustrating as his slow start was, the groin injury was even more infuriating.
So, after sitting for two days, the All-Star third baseman was delighted to be back.
“It was a relief I was just able to run the bases and run and take some swings in the game,” he said. “That was the biggest relief, obviously. That was the icing on the cake with the home run.”
Better yet, he felt pretty good afterward.
“It still bothers me a little bit, but nothing too crazy,” Machado said. “Feels much better than what it was initially when it first happened. We’re just going to keep treating it and hopefully it will get better.”
Miguel Gonzalez (3-3) bounced back from a shaky start to hold the Indians to two runs and four hits over six innings. He’s 3-0 in three career starts against Cleveland.
Zach Britton, the third Orioles reliever, worked a perfect ninth to earn his second save and complete the five-hitter.
In the fifth, one out after Machado went deep, Cruz hit his major-league leading 16th home run on a 3-2 pitch.
“The more games that I play the more comfortable I feel,” said Cruz, who signed a one-year contract in late February. “It’s been a blessing to be a part of this team. To be able to contribute and have the team win, it’s been good.”
Pearce was playing first base for Chris Davis, who was placed on paternity leave before the game. Pearce matched his career high for hits in a game, scored Baltimore’s first run and also had an RBI.
Bauer allowed four runs and six hits in 4 1-3 innings, the second-shortest of his 11 career starts. The right-hander struck out eight, including Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy twice each.
“I thought right from the get-go he was having a tough time commanding his fastball,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “He was a lot in deep counts. His stuff was good, but a lot of it was elevated.”
Bauer made no excuses.
“My worst command of the year,” he said. “Felt great. Felt good all day. Just couldn’t throw the fastball where I wanted to.”
Cleveland did all its scoring in the first inning, got only two at-bats with runners in scoring position and absorbed its second loss in seven games.
“I think we’re playing good baseball,” Bauer said. “I wish I had given the team more of a chance to win today.”
The Indians used two hits and a walk to load the bases with no outs in the first before Lonnie Chisenhall and Nick Swisher delivered run-scoring flyballs. It was the second sacrifice fly in 241 career games for Chisenhall and Swisher’s fourth this season.
Baltimore got a run in the second when Pearce singled, stole second and scored on a bloop single by Jonathan Schoop.
In the third, Pearce hit an RBI single after Cruz doubled with two outs.
NOTES: In addition to placing Davis on paternity leave, Baltimore added C Nick Hundley to the roster, recalled RHP Preston Guilmet from Triple-A Norfolk and optioned INF Steve Lombardozzi to the same minor league club. … Swisher returned after missing two games with a sore knee. Indians SS Asdrubal Cabrera (leg) missed a third straight start but entered as a pinch hitter in the eighth. … The Orioles will send Chris Tillman to the mound Monday against NL Central leader Milwaukee. Cleveland travels to Chicago to face the White Sox. … Cleveland’s Michael Brantley extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and teammate David Murphy snapped a 0-for-15 skid with a fifth-inning single. … Chisenhall has an RBI in six straight games.
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