MILWAUKEE — To that point, Anthony Santander had nothing to show for his road trip. He was hitless in San Francisco and at American Family Field entering his eighth-inning at-bat Thursday, even though he had rocketed two balls for lineouts earlier in the game.
In that sense, Santander wasn’t alone. The Orioles offense had largely dried up the past few games. Manager Brandon Hyde said Thursday morning he wanted to see better at-bats during the series finale against the Brewers, to see his batters show the sort of pitch selectiveness that would allow them to drive the ball again.
Santander displayed it in the eighth, fouling off three pitches before blasting a hanging slider down the right-field line for an RBI double. And, two batters later, shortstop Gunnar Henderson’s two-run, opposite-field homer gave Baltimore a lead it would secure for a sweep-averting 6-3 victory in Milwaukee.
The pulse the Orioles showed late in the series finale gives them a bounce heading into a homestand at Camden Yards that may or may not begin Friday, depending on the air quality of Baltimore. The Orioles needed it, though, after a walk-off loss to the Brewers on Tuesday and a heavy defeat Wednesday.
Baltimore (38-24) avoided what would have been its first series sweep of the season.
“These wins matter,” right-hander Kyle Bradish said. “I know we lost the series, but every win matters now.”
It wasn’t just Santander who broke out of a slump late in Thursday’s game. In the seventh inning, Ramón Urías — who entered the game hitting 3-for-26 since returning from the injured list — lifted a homer that sneaked over the right-field wall off right-hander Joel Payamps in the seventh.
Then came Santander and Henderson in the eighth. Their contributions overcame the three early runs off Bradish. And closer Félix Bautista had a three-run cushion by the time he entered in the ninth because infielder Adam Frazier’s double scored Urías and Aaron Hicks. That made Bautista’s 16th save of the season — one more than last year — all the more routine.
“Going 3-3 on the road feels a lot better than going 2-4,” Hyde said. “Especially the way we came back today, too.”
The first inning unraveled in a hurry for Bradish, with four hits and three runs against him. Bradish, who struggled through an inning like that in his previous start against the San Francisco Giants, showed the growth that must come from a young starter. He rebounded again to complete five innings.
The next four innings from Bradish were as different from the first inning as could be. Bradish retired 12 straight batters at one point, and he racked up 10 strikeouts — the third time in his career he has reached double digits.
“That shows growth, to be able to go out there and, even if you have a rough inning, being able to get through five really saves the team,” Bradish said.
Bradish relied heavily on his slider, which induced five of the 10 strikeouts. He kept an Orioles offense that had scored just two runs across the previous 19 innings in the game. He just needed those bats to come alive again.
Once they did late in Thursday’s game, Baltimore could board a flight home with a slump behind it.
“We had a couple tough games,” Urías said. “Then, we losing the entire game, and to bounce back and win the game is huge for us and give us the confidence back to go home and have another good series.”