CINCINNATI (AP) John Means pitched seven shutout innings in his season debut and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Cincinnati Reds 2-1 on Saturday night.

Means (1-0) underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on April 27, 2022. He returned to make four starts last September before landing back on the IL with a left forearm strain to begin this season.

“Felt pretty good,” Means said after the Orioles won for the fifth time in their last six games. “The team's playing so well, just wanted to join them and feel that energy that they're feeling. Felt like the slider and changeup was working, locating well. You want to get that first one out of the way.”

Like Cole Irvin the night before, Means kept Reds batters off balance with no walks and eight strikeouts.

“That was unbelievable,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “To go out and do that, pitch seven shutout innings, first time off of rehab, not been on a big-league mound for a while, that was way more than we anticipated.”

Means made six rehab starts for Triple-A Norfolk before being reinstated on May 1. He recorded an 8.68 ERA in those starts but said he felt fine physically.

“There's something about rehab starts with me, I don't know what it is,” Means said. “There's something about being up here that feels comfortable. Just going to ride with that. I just want to take it day by day.”

A pair of solo home runs off Reds starter Andrew Abbott (1-4) gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Jorge Mateo's second homer of the season came in the fourth. Adley Rutschman, who had three hits, clubbed his fifth home run in the next inning.

The homers accounted for two of the seven hits Abbott allowed in five innings. He struck out eight with no walks.

“The results will come," Abbott said. "Stay true to yourself, stay true to what you can do. Eventually, it will turn the corner and we will be on a nice win streak and we’ll be looking back and say ‘Hey, it’s all part of the process.’ ”

The Reds who hadn't scored a run in Great American Ball Park in 26 innings, rallied in the ninth.

Pinch hitter Jake Fraley led off with a single against Craig Kimbrel to snap a career-long 0-for-22 streak. Jonathan India walked. After Kimbrel struck out Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer singled home a run to make the score 2-1.

Yennier Cano replaced Kimbrel and walked Tyler Stephenson to load the bases. But Cano struck out Christian Encarnacion-Strand and got Jeimer Candelario to fly out to left field for his first save of the season.

“Unbelievable job by Cano,” Hyde said. “Once we got into a groundball double play situation to end the game, Yenni is a great option for that. He walked Stephenson but got a huge punch out after and then the fly ball.”

Cincinnati avoided being shut out for the second straight night and third time in four home games.

“We had good at bats at the end,” Reds manager David Bell said. “We’ve been struggling to score runs. It's going to turn. We know that. It doesn’t make it any easier to go through. We have good players. We have to fight through it.”


In Sunday's series finale, Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer (2-2, 4.19) will face Reds left-hander Nick Lodolo (3-0, 1.88) who's unbeaten since coming off the IL on April 13.



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