PHOENIX (AP) — It's been a bit of a frustrating season for Baltimore Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins, who has battled a few injuries and hasn't been as consistent at the plate as he'd like.
But a big swing on Saturday night was a reminder that the 5-foot-8, 175-pounder can change a baseball game in a hurry.
Mullins started a six-run fourth inning with a three-run homer, Kyle Bradish threw six solid innings and the Orioles beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 7-3 on Saturday night.
“I wasn’t the rally killer today,” Mullins said. “I kept things moving.”
The Orioles — who snapped a two-game skid — haven't lost three straight games since July 1. They pushed to 84-51 for the season, which is the best record in the American League.
Mullins was an All-Star in 2021 during a 30-homer season, but hasn't been able to match that power output over the past two years. There's reason to believe he might be ready to have a big September, though, with three homers in his past nine games.
“One of the toughest things during a slump is to maintain confidence,” Mullins said. “But I continue to put the work in every single day, trust my ability to play this game, and eventually results are going to come.”
Arizona has lost four of its last five as it tries to keep pace in a crowded race for the three National League wild-card spots.
The D-backs jumped to a 2-0 lead in the third. Ketel Marte's RBI double — a chopper over Baltimore first baseman Ryan O'Hearn head — scored the first run while Alek Thomas followed with a run-scoring groundout.
But Baltimore responded quickly. Mullins launched his three-run homer in the fourth on a no-doubter to right — scoring O'Hearn and Austin Hays — and the Orioles continued to unleash a string of hits against D-backs rookie Slade Cecconi, with Adam Frazier and James McCann delivering back-to-back RBI doubles and Adley Rutschman adding an RBI single.
Seven straight Baltimore hitters reached base on the way to a 6-2 lead. It was Mullins' 13th homer this year.
“We can do that, we can score in bunches and do it quickly,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’ve been missing that here lately, but that was a great offensive inning.”
Rutschman added a solo homer in the seventh to make it 7-2.
Bradish (10-6) gave up two runs on four hits over six innings, walking three and striking out six. It was the right-hander's fourth consecutive quality start.
“I didn't think he had his best command tonight, honestly,” Hyde said. “I didn't think he had his best breaking ball. He's just really tough to hit.”
Cecconi (0-1) gave up six runs on nine hits over 3 1/3 innings. Marte had two of the D-backs' five hits. Gabriel Moreno hit a solo homer in the ninth.
“Slade was adequate early on and throwing the ball very, very well, but started to make some mistakes,” D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said.
Orioles 1B Ryan Mountcastle was out of the starting lineup for a second straight day because of an illness. ... OF Anthony Santander was hit in the right hand by a pitch in the ninth inning and left the game. Hyde said the 28-year-old would get an X-ray but “should be fine.”
Diamondbacks 1B Christian Walker left the game in the fifth inning after getting hit in the right elbow with a pitch in the third. The D-backs said he left the game with right hand discomfort. Lovullo said X-rays were negative and he was day-to-day. Walker leads the team with 29 homers.
The three-game series ends on Sunday. The D-backs will start RHP Zac Gallen (14-6, 3.32 ERA), while the Orioles counter with RHP Jack Flaherty (8-8, 4.73 ERA).
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