Melvin Mora was expecting an extra-base hit off the right-field wall in the 12th inning of Saturday night's 4-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays when the ball kept carrying.
By the time he rounded first base, Mora realized he had just hit the second walk-off homer of his career and his first home run of any kind in 189 at-bats spanning a career-worst homerless drought of 51 games.
"When I was running and I crossed first base, I just think, 'Oh my god, all the questions I have to answer today after the game,' " said Mora, who has three homers in 2009 after 23 last year. " 'You haven't hit one home run since April.' "
Actually, the last time Mora homered was May 7, but he earned some creative license with his first game-winner in nine-plus seasons as an Oriole and first overall since April 20, 2000, when he was with the New York Mets.
"Melvin picked a good time to get one, didn't he? That was good," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, who watched the game from a broadcast booth while serving the second and final game of his suspension.
Before the game, Trembley was asked about Mora's homerless drought and said he felt like the veteran would excel in the second half as he did last year.
"I've heard him say he's not a home run hitter, but it's certainly nice for him to get one tonight and win the game," Trembley said. "Everybody dreams of that, a walk-off and win the game at home in extra innings. That's a special moment. He's played here for a long time, and it's got to make him feel real good."
Mora said he thought he had homered in the fourth inning against Toronto starter Ricky Romero but the ball stayed in the park. So when he hit the shot against Jesse Carlson (1-4) in the 12th, he wasn't expecting any heroics.
With his teammates jumping and bouncing around the plate and what was left of the announced crowd of 28,281 screaming in the seats, Mora slid home to cement the club's fourth extra-inning win in seven tries.
"It's a good feeling, especially when you win the game," Mora said. "That was a pretty good game. Our bullpen was able to shut it down right there."
The Orioles led 3-2 heading into the eighth, but the Blue Jays tied the score with a sacrifice fly against reliever Jim Johnson.
Closer George Sherrill, Brian Bass and Mark Hendrickson (5-4) combined for four scoreless innings to keep the Orioles alive.
They nearly gave the game away in the 11th when rookie catcher Matt Wieters dropped a rundown throw that allowed Scott Rolen to scamper back to first. Rolen later moved to third on Alex Rios' single and, with two outs, Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas hit a hard grounder that bounced off Mora's stomach. He quickly regrouped and threw to first to nab the plodding Barajas, who is hobbled by a hamstring injury.
"I know Rod real well. He's a gamer," Trembley said. "I didn't know he had a bad leg. I thought it was going to be a close play, but then I looked up and he didn't get out of the box very good at all."
Mora's blast and the bullpen's effectiveness overshadowed the performance by the Orioles' Rich Hill, who turned in his best start since mid-June, allowing just two runs in a six-inning no-decision. He lowered his season ERA from 7.43 to 6.92 and his home ERA to a still unsightly 10.26 in four starts.
What Saturday night's outing means for Hill's future in the rotation is uncertain, but he offered an argument for staying in it when the second half begins Thursday. Trembley said he would talk with pitching coach Rick Kranitz today about Hill's role.
Mora, however, said he is ready for a historic run now that his homerless streak is over.
"Now, I'm going to hit 20 straight in 20 games," he joked.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times