With their longest losing streak of the season in the past, the Baltimore Orioles can confidently focus on the present.
The Orioles try to win consecutive games for the first time in almost a month Sunday in the finale of a four-game set with the Cleveland Indians at Camden Yards.
Nick Markakis had a homer among his three extra-base hits and reliever-turned-starter Alfredo Simon went seven solid innings as Baltimore (37-54) snapped a nine-game skid by holding on for a 6-5 win Saturday. The Orioles, 7-23 since June 11, won for just the second time in 16 games.
"It feels good to shake hands after the game and put that streak behind us," said third baseman Mark Reynolds, who is 2 for 19 with 12 strikeouts the last six games.
"I feel like this team is a lot better than what we've been doing the last couple weeks,'' said Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy, who doubled and scored the game's first run hours after he agreed to a three-year contract.
Despite his team's recent struggles, Markakis has hit .400 with four home runs and 20 RBIs his last 32 games. His current .297 average is his highest since early April.
The Orioles, who were thrilled to see Simon become only the second Baltimore starter in the last 29 games to complete seven innings, hope Mitch Atkins (0-0, 8.22 ERA) has a better performance than his last when he makes his third career start Sunday.
The right-hander allowed a run in six innings of a 4-2 loss at Texas in his Baltimore debut July 5, but gave up six runs and three home runs in just 1 2-3 innings of an 8-6 loss at Boston last Sunday.
"I couldn't make good pitches to put them away," Atkins told the Orioles' official website. "You make mistakes and good hitters will make you pay."
He faces an Indians club that was limited to four hits Saturday after totaling 23 over the first two games. Orlando Cabrera had a three-run double in the ninth and Michael Brantley drove in two runs for Cleveland, which lost for the fourth time in six games but still holds a one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.
"We put up a fight at the end,'' Indians manager Manny Acta said.
Brantley has hit .421 with five RBIs his last eight games after batting .108 (4 for 37) his previous nine. He's hitting .409 (9 for 22) against the Orioles this season.
Cleveland is expected to recall Jeanmar Gomez (0-1, 4.91) from the minors to start Sunday in place of the injured Mitch Talbot.
The right-hander is 0-1 with a 5.28 ERA in three starts this season, but has not pitched in the majors since he gave up a run over 5 1-3 innings of a 4-3, 12-inning win at Oakland on May 5. He was 9-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts for Triple-A Columbus.
In his only appearance against the Orioles, Gomez gave up a run in six innings of a 4-1 victory at Progressive Field on Aug. 12.
Gomez won't have to face veteran Vladimir Guerrero, who was put on the disabled list Saturday with a broken bone in his hand.