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Shintaro Fujinami Got the Final Three Out to Complete the Four-Hitter: Orioles Beat Athletics 12-1

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Baltimore Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, left, celebrates with pitcher Shintaro Fujinami after they defeated the Oakland Athletics in a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kyle Bradish had eight strikeouts in six dominant innings, Jorge Mateo hit an inside-the-park home run and the Baltimore Orioles beat the last-place Oakland Athletics 12-1 on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep.

Ryan Mountcastle extended his on-base streak to a career-high 26 games with three hits including his 17th home run to pace the Orioles’ 17-hit attack. Gunnar Henderson hit his 21st to go with two doubles and a triple, and Austin Hays added a two-run single as Baltimore won its sixth in eight games and improved to an AL-best 77-47.

Orioles manager Brandon Hyde was impressed by the team’s 6-3 record on its second-longest road trip of the season.

“It shows you the grit and grind of our guys,” Hyde said. “It’s not easy to come out to the West Coast. Everybody’s tired today. Everybody’s (been) tired the last couple of days. Travel gets to you.”

Baltimore completed the trip in good fashion, getting solid pitching from Bradish and an offense that had seven extra-base hits.

It’s the fourth time this season the Orioles have had 17 hits or more. It’s the first time the Orioles hit 30 games over .500 since ending 2014 at 96-66.

Brent Rooker hit his 20th home run for the A’s, who dropped their eighth in nine games and were eliminated from contention in the AL West while being swept for the 17th time this season to match an Oakland-era record (1978).

“That’s the best team in the American League and they came in here and showed why,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said of the Orioles. “They do everything well.”

The A’s fell to 34-90, the first time that they’ve been 56 games under .500 since the franchise was in Philadelphia and finished 49-105 in 1946.

Bradish (8-6) was overpowering all afternoon in his first career start against the A’s, allowing two hits and one walk. He struck out the side in the first on 13 pitches, whiffed seven of the first nine overall and didn’t allow a base runner until Zack Gelof’s one-out single in the fourth.

“I was locating down and away where I’ve been trying to the past few outings,” Bradish said. “I know I’m capable of doing this every time out, putting up good numbers, having a good offense behind me. The whole team did well.”

The Orioles pitcher was still upstaged by teammate Mateo, the former A’s farmhand who spent nearly three years in Oakland’s minor leagues before being traded to San Diego in 2020. Baltimore signed him off waivers in 2021.

Mateo crushed an 0-1 pitch from JP Sears (2-10) that bounced off the wall in left-center between two A’s outfielders then rolled quickly back onto the field. Oakland left fielder Tony Kemp chased the ball down but Mateo was well on his way and slid headfirst into home.

It’s the 26th inside-the-park home run in Orioles history and the first since Trey Mancini did it against Tampa Bay on July 28, 2022.

“I honestly thought they were going to catch the ball,” Mateo said through a translator. “Once I saw the ball hit the dirt then I really started to take off.”

Mountcastle, whose on-base streak is the longest active in the majors, singled in the first and third innings then homered in the fourth, his second in five days.

Henderson, who barely missed a home run in the fourth, had a no-doubter off Zach Neal in the seventh that clanged off the foul pole in right.

He came up to bat in the eighth needing a single to complete the cycle but doubled, resisting the urge to stop at first base for the milestone.

“It kind of went through my head before the at-bat … but I just play the game hard,” Henderson said. “A double, the opportunity was there. That was just the way I play. Wasn’t meant to be.”

Rooker homered off Nick Vespi leading off the seventh.

Vespi retired six batters while former A’s pitcher Shintaro Fujinami got the final three out to complete the four-hitter.

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu
Baltimore Orioles pitcher Shintaro Fujinami works against the Oakland Athletics during the ninth inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023.

Sears lost his third straight decision after one of his worst outings of the season. Sears allowed nine hits and a career high-tying seven runs with four strikeouts.