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Orioles' John Means continues to prove himself as piece to build on in 7-3 win over Dodgers

The Baltimore Sun — By Jon Meoli The Baltimore Sun

Sept. 11-- BALTIMORE-John Means' previous outing before he held the behemoth Los Angeles Dodgers to two runs on four hits and pitched into the seventh inning in a 7-3 Orioles win Wednesday night at Camden Yards was similarly strong, but he unraveled late.

So Means said after that game that finishing his starts well was what was going to allow the rookie left-hander and Baltimore's lone All-Star to win over the coaching staff.

In a season in which the Orioles' pitching staff has often left manager Brandon Hyde in the dugout looking like a man who really hoped his car would start but isn't surprised it didn't, Means has little to be worried about.

Orioles' Jonathan Villar hits record-setting 6,106th home run of MLB season »

If anyone on this team has won over the coaching staff in Year One of what will assuredly be a long rebuild, it's the self-starting left-hander who spent the offseason refashioning himself into a major league pitcher and almost all of this season proving himself to be a good one.

Just look at Wednesday's effort, which combined with home runs by Jonathan Villar and Pedro Severino ended the Orioles' six-game losing streak and helped the club match their 2018 win total at 47-98.

Means had a rather long first inning, which featured a one-out single by David Freese, but outside of Austin Barnes' third-inning walk, the bases were quiet until Means allowed a leadoff double to Barnes in the sixth inning and a two-run home run by A.J. Pollock.

The contact did get harder in those later innings, prompting Hyde to pull Means with one out in the seventh. But it was everything that Means has excelled at over the course of this breakout season. His fastball velocity wasn't the best, but his changeup kept getting soft outs until that sixth inning, and his slider grew into a weapon with a season-high seven swinging strikes.

He's accounted for most of the success the Orioles' rotation can boast this year. The team has had 69 outings of at least five innings with three runs or fewer allowed; Means has 18 of them. His 3.47 ERA is the lowest for an Orioles rookie starter with at least 130 innings since Mike Boddicker's 2.77 ERA in 1983.

Means helped make winners out of the Orioles on Wednesday, along with 1 2/3 scoreless innings from Shawn Armstrong on his 29th birthday and a one-run inning from Mychal Givens.

Villar's 21st home run of the season broke a 2-2 tie in the bottom of the seventh and made history. Villar's was the 6,106th home run in the majors this year, setting a league-wide record.

The Orioles led 5-2 after Villar's home run and 7-2 after Severino homered into the Dodgers bullpen in the eighth.

Rookie Austin Hays, who last week made his return to the majors for the first time since September 2017, collected his first hit of the season and added two more in his first career three-hit game. Hays also made several athletic catchers in center field, the position he's auditioning for a long-term role in for 2020 and beyond.

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