BALTIMORE (AP) Tyler Wells and the stellar Baltimore bullpen made quick work of the Pittsburgh Pirates, who struggled mightily to get on base and never did find a way to cross the plate.
Wells pitched seven innings of one-hit ball and the Orioles used home runs by Adley Rutschman and Gunnar Henderson to carve out a 2-0 victory on Saturday night.
Wells allowed only one baserunner over the first six innings and retired 17 straight at one point. His performance, combined with a strong effort by two Baltimore relievers, helped limit the time of game to a brisk 2 hours, 4 minutes.
“I put my slider where I wanted it, put my changeup where I wanted it. My fastball was working as well,” Wells said. “Whenever you have three solid pitches working for you, outings like that happen.”
Wells (3-1) had a career-high eight strikeouts and walked two. The only baserunner against the right-hander over the first six innings came on a clean, sharp single to left field by Carlos Santana to lead off the second.
The Pirates didn't get another runner on until Wells walked Santana with two outs in the seventh. Jack Suwinski also walked before Miguel Andujar hit a 2-1 pitch to deep right field that a leaping Anthony Santander snagged at the wall.
Wells pumped his fist with joy before leaving the mound after his 96-pitch masterpiece.
“Their starter did a real nice job,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “Cutter, changeup, that combination kept us off balance. We had a chance in the seventh with the ball Miggy hit, but Santander made a really nice play on it.”
Yennier Cano gave up a double in the eighth and Félix Bautista allowed a single in the ninth before striking out the side to complete the three-hitter and earn his 10th save in 13 chances.
“The back end of their bullpen is elite,” Shelton said. “We knew that coming in.”
Rutschman connected in the first inning off Roansy Contreras (3-4) and Henderson went deep in the second after stepping to the plate with a .170 batting average. That was enough offense to propel the Orioles to their fourth straight victory and 17th in 23 games.
“Obviously we had a couple of great hits from Gunnar and Adley,” Wells said. “That kind of put us over the top.”
By winning the first two games of this three-game set, Baltimore clinched its ninth series win in the last 10. The Orioles own the second-best record in the majors (26-13) behind AL East rival Tampa Bay (30-11).
Pittsburgh has dropped four in a row and 11 of 12.
Contreras gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings. The right-hander has yielded four home runs in his last three starts after keeping the opposition homerless during his first five outings.
“He gives up two solo homers, but other than that he was pretty much outstanding,” Shelton said.
Wells was better.
The Orioles were managed by bench coach Fredi González, who took over while Brandon Hyde attended the graduation of his oldest daughter from Syracuse University.
Not long after the final out, Hyde reached out to congratulate his substitute.
“I already got a text from him," González said.
Although González managed the Florida Marlins and Atlanta Braves for a combined 10 seasons through 2016, he acknowledged being a bit anxious about calling the shots in place of Hyde. Asked how he felt on Saturday morning, González said, “I was nervous. I'm not going to lie to you.” He expected to be just fine after the first pitch and vowed not to get ejected because it was uncertain who would replace him.
Pirates: RHP Vince Velasquez (elbow inflammation) will throw live batting practice next week, Shelton said. Velasquez is eligible to return from the injured list on May 20.
Orioles: OF Ryan McKenna (sore back) missed a second straight game. Uncertain of the severity of the injury, the team had Joey Ortiz on its taxi squad.
Right-hander Kyle Gibson (4-2, 4.40 ERA) starts for Baltimore on Sunday in the series finale. Pittsburgh will start righty Mitch Keller (4-1, 2.72), who's coming off his first career complete game, a four-hit shutout of Colorado.
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