BALTIMORE -- Wild? Wacky? Wonderful?
There were numerous ways to describe the events that unfolded in a bizarre five-run fifth inning, as the Orioles watched an ejection, a voluntary out and Indians starter Corey Kluber do his best David Beckham impression. But by the time Baltimore reliever Darren O'Day put the finishing touches on a game that included a 78-minute rain delay, there was just one letter that mattered in Thursday's unusual -- and incredibly entertaining contest -- a W.
Buoyed by a solid effort from starter Miguel Gonzalez, the Orioles beat the Indians, 7-3, to salvage a split in the four-game series and give Baltimore its second victory in seven games. The win pushes the Orioles (44-36) into sole possession of second place in the American League East, ahead of a New York Yankees team that will face Baltimore this weekend.
"It was a great game, and then it was a long night for us," Indians manager Terry Francona said as he watched Baltimore roar back with the five-run fifth. "We played a good team. Against a team like that, if you make a mistake, you'll pay for it."
With the Orioles down a run, Ryan Flaherty -- who had a two-run single in the second -- delivered his second hit to start the bottom of the fifth, and Nate McLouth drove the ninth pitch of his at-bat into center field to put runners on the corners. Third baseman Manny Machado followed with a strikeout that ended his inning early, as the 20-year-old earned his first career ejection from home-plate umpire Will Little.
Machado, who went down swinging, turned and said something to Little following the at-bat -- gesturing that he thought he had tipped the ball -- and Little gave him the thumb. The ejection ended a stretch of 1,206 consecutive innings played by Machado -- who was promoted from Double-A last August -- which was the longest active streak in baseball, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
"I swung at a bad pitch," said Machado, who admitted he earned the ejection with what he said to Little. "I thought I fouled it off. Obviously, I looked back on the replay, and I didn't. [It was] something that I said wrong to the umpire, and I have to pay the consequences for it. [I] let my team down. Obviously, something that won't happen again."
Machado's teammates picked him up, with Nick Markakis singling in a run and Adam Jones following with a blooper to load the bases for Chris Davis. With a crowd of 33,036 on its feet, Davis hit a ground ball to shortstop Mike Aviles for an apparent forceout, but the sliding Jones was actually called safe on the play. The Orioles center fielder didn't realize that and got up and trotted off the field from second base, with the ruling being that he was out because he left the basepaths.
"Ninety-nine percent of the time, you're out on that play," Jones said. "The one percent of the time, you know, I left the bag. Honest mistake, it didn't cost us, didn't hurt us. But I know there's a lot of good baserunners on Twitter now. ... And I'm also a great wide receiver and a general manager and a Fortune 500 business owner."
McLouth scored on the play and Davis' hustle beat the throw to first and extended the inning for catcher Matt Wieters' two-run double to deep right field. Wieters' ball, which was bobbled by right fielder Drew Stubbs, allowed him to advance to third, and he scored on J.J. Hardy's dribbler back to the mound, which Kluber tried to field and ended up kicking several yards into the visiting dugout railing.
"They're a really good offensive team," said Kluber, who exited after Hardy's hit. "When you make multiple mistakes in one inning, they can add up in a hurry against a team like that."
Gonzalez (6-3) was far more effective, holding the Indians to three runs and tying a career high with nine strikeouts in a 106-pitch outing. Gonzalez, who turned in the most strikeouts in an outing by an Orioles starter this year, surrendered a pair of solo homers -- to Lonnie Chisenhall and Aviles -- but otherwise kept Cleveland in check.
"I felt I was falling behind a little bit early, but then I settled down and worked with all the pitches I needed to, changing pitches, changing speeds to good hitters up and down," said Gonzalez, who credited the job Wieters did behind the plate for helping him settle in. "I think that was an important thing for me."
Gonzalez exited to a standing ovation after fanning red-hot Jason Kipnis, and lefty Brian Matusz got a popup to end the half-inning before rain halted play. Troy Patton pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and O'Day worked around a one-out single to end the game.
"Regardless of who is coming in, I've told you many times how challenging four-game series are," Showalter said. "To win that [game], guys had to battle through some tough conditions tonight. It's sticky, it's wet. It tests your concentration level, your 'want-to' there. So, I was real proud of everybody tonight. They jumped out there and our guys found a way to get some runs across."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.