BALTIMORE (AP) -- J.J.
Hardy hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning, and the
Baltimore Orioles gave away a six-run lead before rebounding to beat the
Cincinnati Reds 9-7 Thursday night for a three-game sweep.
After completing a 9-2 homestand against Tampa Bay, Minnesota and the
Reds, the AL East-leading Orioles (82-57) are assured a third straight
winning season for the first time since 1992-94.
Nelson Cruz hit his major league-leading 37th home run in a six-run
first inning, but the Reds chipped away and finally pulled even with a
Nick Markakis led off the bottom half with a single off Manny Parra
(0-2), and Hardy put Baltimore back in front with a bases-loaded single
on a 3-1 pitch from Sam LeCure.
Tommy Hunter (3-2) worked 1 1-3 innings and Zach Britton got three outs for his 33rd save.
After watching the Reds get beat 6-0 on Wednesday -- their 15th loss
in 21 games -- Cincinnati manager Bryan Price said he was going to "see
what we have in our system."
His starting lineup contained five September call-ups and first baseman Jack Hannahan, who has no RBIs in 17 games this season.
Devin Mesoraco went 4 for 4, hit his 21st home run and had four RBIs.
But the Reds dropped to 66-74, the first time they've been eight games
under .500 since Oct. 2, 2009.
Mesoraco doubled in two runs in the seventh to complete Cincinnati's comeback.
Cruz homered with a man on and newcomer Kelly Johnson doubled in a
run before Nick Hundley capped the first-inning uprising against Mike
Leake with a three-run shot.
Jonathan Schoop connected in the fourth to make it 7-2. The rookie has homered in three straight games.
Leake yielded a career high-tying seven runs on seven hits in four
innings. The three home runs he allowed also matched a career high.
Orioles starter Chris Tillman gave up five hits over six innings. He left with Baltimore up 7-3.
Reds: RHP Homer Bailey will have surgery on his elbow Friday to
repair a torn tendon. Bailey, who's on the 60-day DL, expects to be
fully recovered by the start of spring training.
Orioles: 1B Steve Pearce, who has not played since Aug. 29 because of
a strained abdominal muscle, hopes to return Saturday against Tampa
Bay. Also, reliever Andrew Miller is day-to-day with a tender hamstring.
Reds: Alfredo Simon, who's 1-6 in the second half, takes the mound
Friday night for the opener of a series against the visiting New York
Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen (14-4) starts for the fifth time this season against Tampa Bay to launch a three-game series Friday night.