BALTIMORE -- Alfredo Simon pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, Nick Markakis homered and scored three runs, and the Baltimore Orioles held on to beat the Cleveland Indians 6-5 Saturday night to end a nine-game losing streak
Baltimore took a 6-2 lead into the ninth inning before closer Kevin Gregg gave up three straight one-out walks. After Lonnie Chisenhall struck out, Orlando Cabrera cleared the bases with a double.
Mike Gonzalez then retired Grady Sizemore on a grounder to earn his first save and help Baltimore snap its longest skid of the year. The Orioles had lost 14 of 15 and were 6-23 since June 11.
Despite the loss, the Indians maintained their one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. Cleveland was 5-0 against the Orioles this season.
Simon (2-2) became only the second Baltimore starter in the last 29 games to complete seven innings. The former closer allowed two runs, walked one and struck out five in his longest outing since September 2008.
After Koji Uehara worked a perfect eighth, Gregg provided a measure of drama to Baltimore’s first win since July 3.
It was the first time in 11 games that Baltimore did not yield at least 10 hits. Orioles starters were 2-12 with a 9,60 ERA in 18 games before Simon reversed the trend with what might be deemed a farewell performance of sorts.
Simon is scheduled to leave Sunday for the Dominican Republic, where he will attend a hearing Monday in the Jan. 1 shooting death of his cousin. No charges have been filed in the case, which stems from a celebration in which guns were shot in the air.
Simon could return within a few days, although there really is no set timetable for his return.
The Indians had only one base runner in the first five innings and trailed 2-0 before pulling even in the sixth. Austin Kearns hit a roller to third for a single and Lou Marson walked before first baseman Derrek Lee snagged a hard-hit grounder and tagged the bag. Michael Brantley followed with a two-run double to right-center.
Markakis connected off Carlos Carrasco (8-7) in the bottom half, his eighth of the season and first since July 2.
In the eighth, Markakis and Adam Jones hit successive doubles off Rafael Perez to make it 4-2. Felix Pie then doubled in two runs off Frank Herrmann.
Markakis finished with two doubles and a homer, the third time in his career he’s had three extra-base hits in a game.
Carrasco gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. He has lost his last three starts.
After agreeing to a three-year extension earlier in the day, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy promptly offered proof to justify the deal. He led off the first inning with a double, advanced on a fly ball and came home on a sacrifice fly by Jones for a 1-0 lead.
Simon retired all nine batters until Brantley singled leading off the fourth. He was wiped out on a 3-6-1 double play.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the bottom half. Markakis hit a leadoff double and was on third base with two outs when Lee delivered an RBI single. Lee was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a double by Mark Reynolds.
NOTES: With the victory, Orioles manager Buck Showalter avoided the longest skid of his career. ... Cleveland outscored the Orioles 34-16 in the first five games.