There is no place to hide in a major league bullpen, no low-stress situation when games are won and lost in the first inning or the ninth inning — or, in this case, the 11th inning. So Craig Kimbrel entered from the bullpen with a runner automatically on second base in a tie game.

After a five-outing rut that included six runs against Kimbrel in 2 1/3 innings, manager Brandon Hyde spoke to his closer about a reset. He planned to use Kimbrel in lower-leverage situations. He inserted Kimbrel in the seventh inning Friday, for instance.

But baseball necessitates production when thrown into a fire, and Kimbrel rose to the occasion in the Orioles’ 5-4 win against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday.

“It wasn’t how I drew it up, to be honest with you,” Hyde said. “I’m not exactly easing him in.”

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Kimbrel made it work anyway. By stranding the inherited runner and working around a hit batter, the 35-year-old right-hander gave the Orioles an opportunity in the bottom half of the 11th — an opportunity Jordan Westburg pounced on.

Westburg drove in the game-winning run with a single to right field for his 26th RBI this season — good for the second most in Baltimore’s lineup. The victory at Camden Yards sealed another series win before Sunday’s finale and papers over the 10 runners left on base after Baltimore hit 3-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

At 26-12, the Orioles are tied with their 1969 and 1970 teams for the best 38-game start in franchise history.

Westburg finished with four hits in a game for the first time in his career, and the first of his two RBIs Saturday came on a double in the second inning. His game-winning hit was possible, of course, because Kimbrel proved unshaken upon plunking Christian Walker to put runners on the corners with one out.

“Kind of thinking of it like bowling,” Kimbrel said. “I’ve been having good spin, just throwing it down the wrong lane. So, the last two [appearances] have been good. Getting down the right lane and making some good pitches.”

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Baltimore needs Kimbrel to figure it out for 13 million reasons — the price of Kimbrel’s one-year deal signed in the offseason. His track record is there; Kimbrel has a Hall of Fame résumé with 425 career saves. But his latest results, before scoreless frames Friday and Saturday, were shaky.

That prompted a conversation Friday with Hyde in which the manager made it clear the Orioles weren’t moving on from Kimbrel; rather, they were letting him recover with lower-stress action. Hyde commended Kimbrel’s professionalism through it all.

“It’s not easy to struggle, and it’s not easy to struggle in the big leagues, and it’s not easy to have everybody talk about it, either,” Hyde said.

But neither Hyde nor his teammates noticed any difference in how Kimbrel prepares or carries himself through this grind.

“There’s a reason why he’s done what he’s done his whole career,” Westburg said. “And there’s a reason why we brought him in this year. He’s going to be an important piece for us. He just needs to get back on the bump and keep throwing, keep having outings like today. Hopefully, these build his confidence back and he can get back in that role that he’s been so good in for so long. I don’t think anybody’s really worried about him.”

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The bullpen performance — which featured five pitchers going 6 1/3 scoreless innings with just one hit against them — covered for a short start from left-hander John Means.

A week ago, as part of Baltimore’s lengthy scoreless streak from its starting pitchers, Means made his season debut in good form. He threw seven shutout innings with just three hits against him.

Means didn’t match that Saturday, and perhaps he was fortunate to allow just four runs based on all the hard-hit balls against him. The Diamondbacks rocketed nine balls with an exit velocity of 99.1 mph or higher, but just five of them landed for hits. Many of those five, though, played a role in plating those four runs.

Orioles third baseman Jordan Westburg fields the throw as Kevin Newman of the Diamondbacks slides into the base on a triple. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

Ketel Marte blasted a no-doubt two-run home run one plate appearance after Kevin Newman tripled on a hit that would’ve been a homer in any other park. Newman’s double and Lourdes Gurriel Jr.’s single in the fifth helped chase Means before he could complete the frame, with two more runs scoring.

The 2 1/3 innings from right-hander Mike Baumann set the stage for a host of zeroes on the board from relievers. Baumann stranded the two inherited runners he received in the fifth and went on to throw two more scoreless frames to bridge the gap. Baumann retired seven of the eight batters he faced, and in doing so he shook off recent wobbles that included three runs and three walks in his previous four innings before Saturday.

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“Mike Baumann hasn’t pitched very much, and he gave us the biggest two-plus innings out of the ’pen to keep the score right where it was, to give us a chance,” Hyde said. “Baumann gave us a chance tonight.”

The Orioles had managed plenty of traffic on the bases to that point. Ryan Mountcastle led the way with two doubles and a triple, but it was Westburg, Ryan O’Hearn and Gunnar Henderson who drove in the early runs.

For the second straight day, Westburg swatted an RBI double in the second inning. O’Hearn continued a rampant start to the year with an opposite-field, two-out knock that scored Jorge Mateo. And, with a loud blast, Henderson tied the major league lead with his 12th homer in the fifth.

Then they added on late, coming from behind as they have so many times before. Anthony Santander reached for a pitch outside the zone but drove it to center field for his third homer in five games anyway.

The Orioles needed extra innings for the second time in three games, and they won it late once again. This time, Kimbrel stepped into a high-leverage spot and succeeded, and Westburg just kept on chugging.

“We wanted to win that for our bullpen,” Westburg said. “Our bullpen came in and threw some big-time innings.”

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

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