CLEVELAND — Rookie Kevin Gausman pitched six strong innings and the Baltimore Orioles salvaged the series finale, beating the Cleveland Indians 4-1 on Sunday to avoid being swept for the first time since May.
Gausman (7-4) allowed just one run and two hits as the AL East-leading Orioles got back in the win column after scoring just one run in their previous two games.
J.J. Hardy hit a two-out RBI single and the slumping Chris Davis added an RBI double in the sixth to rally the Orioles, who were blanked over the first five by Danny Salazar (4-6).
Steve Pearce and Jonathan Schoop homered for Baltimore.
Orioles reliever Darren O’Day pitched a perfect seventh, Andrew Miller struck out the side in the eighth and Zach Britton finished the combined two-hitter for his 26th save.
The Indians failed to take advantage of another strong start and finish the sweep.
Despite being an MLB-best 28-13 since June 30, the Orioles didn’t look like contenders in the first two games, scoring once Friday and not at all Saturday.
They trailed 1-0 before taking their first lead of the series in the sixth on clutch hits by Hardy and Davis.
Salazar, recalled before the game from Triple-A Columbus, held Baltimore without a run on four hits through five before running into trouble in the sixth. He gave up a leadoff double to Pearce and hit Adam Jones before he was replaced by Scott Atchison, who got two quick outs.
Hardy, though, came through with his single and Davis, who was dropped again in the order by manager Buck Showalter, looped a soft double into left to make it 2-1.
Pearce hit his 12th homer in seventh off C.C. Lee to give Baltimore a two-run lead.
Schoop’s leadoff homer in the ninth made it 4-1.
Although he took the loss, Salazar continued a torrid run of starting pitching for the Indians, who got a typically strong outing from Corey Kluber in the opener before Carlos Carrasco blanked the Orioles on three hits over seven innings.
Over the past seven games, Cleveland’s starters have posted a 1.02 ERA — five earned runs in 44 innings.
Gausman held the Indians hitless until the fourth when Carlos Santana doubled. Jason Kipnis followed with a flare that dropped between three Orioles, scoring Santana. Lonnie Chisenhall nearly made it 2-0, but his drive to left was snagged at the wall by Delmon Young, who made a long run before making the catch.
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