BALTIMORE -- Of course it wasn't going to be easy. It never is for the Baltimore Orioles, who endured much anxiety and drama during their first victory since July 3.
Alfredo Simon pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, Nick Markakis homered and scored three runs, and the Orioles held on to beat the Cleveland Indians 6-5 Saturday night to end a nine-game losing streak.
Afterward, there rap music played in the Baltimore clubhouse as the players celebrated their second win of the month.
"We haven't had music in a while," third baseman Mark Reynolds said. "It feels good to shake hands after the game and put that streak behind us."
The ninth inning wasn't the only compelling aspect of the game.
Simon is scheduled to leave Sunday for the Dominican Republic, where he will attend a hearing Monday in the Jan. 1 shooting death of his cousin. No charges have been filed in the case, which stems from a celebration in which guns were shot in the air.
Simon could return within a few days, although there really is no set timetable.
"When I was there (on the mound) I don't think about that," he said. "I just get my job done and do it the best I can so my family could see my game tonight. I wanted to do it for them over there. And when I show up over there, they're waiting for me and that makes me feel good. I don't really think about that thing."
Simon (2-2) became the second Baltimore starter in the last 29 games to complete seven innings. The former closer allowed two runs, walked one and struck out five in his longest stint since September 2008.
"I think there's a lot of things in people's lives, obviously not as serious as what's going on in his, that players have to somehow put out of their mind a little bit for three, two hours," manager Buck Showalter said. "Where his life is concerned, where he is right now, it's a little different scale. I'm sure he feels a little better getting on the plane tomorrow after having a good outing."
It was the first time in 11 games that Baltimore did not yield at least 10 hits. Orioles starters were 2-12 with a 9,60 ERA in 18 games before Simon reversed the trend.
Despite the loss, the Indians maintained their one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central. Cleveland was 5-0 against the Orioles this season.
The Indians had only one base runner in the first five innings and trailed 2-0 before pulling even in the sixth. Austin Kearns hit a roller to third for a single and Lou Marson walked before first baseman Derrek Lee snagged a hard-hit grounder and tagged the bag. Michael Brantley followed with a two-run double to right-center.
Markakis connected off Carlos Carrasco (8-7) in the bottom half, his eighth of the season and first since July 2.
In the eighth, Markakis and Adam Jones hit successive doubles off Rafael Perez to make it 4-2. Felix Pie then doubled in two runs off Frank Herrmann, a hit that turned out to be quite significant in the wake of Gregg's collapse.
"You always like tack-on runs," Showalter said, "especially when you have the top of their order coming up and the firepower they have."
Markakis finished with two doubles and a homer, the third time in his career he's had three extra-base hits in a game.
Carrasco gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings. He has lost his last three starts.
"I thought Carlos threw well, kept us in the game, gave us a chance to win," Indians manager Manny Acta said. "Simon was very tough. We couldn't do much against him. ... We put up a fight at the end, but unfortunately when we gave up a three spot in the eighth that put us in a big hole over there, and that was the story."
After agreeing to a three-year extension earlier in the day, Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy promptly offered proof to justify the deal. He led off the first inning with a double, advanced on a fly ball and came home on a sacrifice fly by Jones for a 1-0 lead.
Simon retired all nine batters until Brantley singled leading off the fourth. He was wiped out on a 3-6-1 double play.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the bottom half. Markakis hit a leadoff double and was on third base with two outs when Lee delivered an RBI single. Lee was thrown out at the plate trying to score on a double by Reynolds.
After the game, the Orioles placed DH Vladimir Guerrero (hand) on the 15-day disabled list and optioned LHP Pedro Viola to Double-A Bowie. Baltimore recalled LHP Troy Patton and OF Matt Angle from Triple-A Norfolk. ... With the victory, Showalter avoided the longest skid of his career. ... It was only the third time in eight games that Cleveland failed to get 10 hits.