Orioles 8, Pirates 6
Playing in the major leagues for the first time in 13 months, Brian Roberts probably would have been happy just to get through the game without incident.
Instead, the two-time All-Star second baseman went 3 for 4 with a sacrifice fly. He also provided the Baltimore Orioles an emotional lift Tuesday night in their 8-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Activated from the 60-day disabled list before the game, Roberts shined in his first action since May 16, 2011, when he sustained a severe concussion that left him with headaches and dizziness for months.
There were times when he wasn't sure he'd ever play again. Upon his long-awaited return, the 34-year-old looked like he never left.
''It felt great. I actually had bad dreams last night. I had to wake up and cross some stuff out of my mind,'' he said. ''I didn't know what to expect. I wasn't expecting three hits. I was just trying to go out there, as cliche as it sounds, and try to have good at-bats and try to do something that would help us win a game.''
Baltimore's longtime leadoff hitter received a standing ovation from the crowd of 15,618 in the bottom of the first inning before lining a single up the middle.
He also singled in the fourth, delivered a sacrifice fly in the sixth and singled again in the eighth - his first three-hit game since April 2011.
''I just wanted to try to be productive,'' Roberts said. ''It was definitely more than I could ask for. I sometimes don't have words for what I've been through and where we are now. I'm humbled and grateful to have the opportunity.''
His performance was an inspiration to the rest of the Orioles, who won their third straight and fifth in seven games.
''It was fun to watch,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''The guys kind of fed off of it because you know what it meant to him. I think everybody kind of felt a little anxiety for him before the game, but he certainly didn't play like it.''
Adam Jones had four hits, including a homer, and Mark Reynolds and Chris Davis also connected for the Orioles. Jones is 14 for 33 (.424) in interleague play this year.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen (6-2) allowed four runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. The Taiwan native improved to 4-0 at Camden Yards and moved into a tie with Jason Hammel for the team lead in wins.
After Neil Walker hit a two-run homer in the ninth off Kevin Gregg, Jim Johnson got two outs for his 19th save.
Casey McGehee also homered for the Pirates, whose four-game winning streak ended. Pittsburgh, which fell out of a first-place tie with Cincinnati in the NL Central, had won its previous six series openers.
Brad Lincoln (3-2) gave up four runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings. He has allowed nine earned runs and 15 hits in his last two starts following six straight appearances in relief.
''We need him to pitch better if he's going to stay in the rotation,'' manager Clint Hurdle said. ''We have the option, if he doesn't pitch better, to put him back in the bullpen. We need to get him back on track.''
Said Lincoln: ''Missing spots got me. ... They still believe in me and they want to see me do well out there.''
Baltimore took advantage of two errant throws in a four-run sixth that made it 8-2. After errors by shortstop Clint Barnes and pitcher Chris Resop, Roberts hit a sacrifice fly and J.J. Hardy singled in a run before Davis hit a two-run drive.
Pittsburgh closed to 8-4 in the seventh. Andrew McCutchen drove in a run with a groundout and McGehee greeted Luis Ayala with a sacrifice fly.
By then, however, the Orioles already had enough runs to up their record in interleague play to 5-2. They were 7-11 last year.
Pittsburgh got a first-inning run when Matt Hague ended a 1-for-17 skid with an RBI single.
Baltimore went up 2-1 in the second when Jones doubled ahead of Reynolds' fourth homer of the season - all in his last 20 games.
After Jones singled in a run in the third, Baltimore left the bases loaded. The Orioles also stranded runners at the corners in the fourth.
Jones hit his 18th homer in the fifth to chase Lincoln, and McGehee hit a solo shot in the sixth to make it 4-2.
NOTES: Baltimore OF Endy Chavez left in the sixth inning with a right hamstring strain. ... Pittsburgh needs to win the next two games to earn a sixth straight series win for the first time since 1992. ... Baltimore optioned INF Steve Tolleson to Triple-A Norfolk and transferred OF Nolan Reimold (back) to the 60-day DL. ... Orioles LHP Brian Matusz was practicing bunting Tuesday when he fouled a ball off his nose. It was only a bruise, and he is expected to make his start Wednesday. Pittsburgh will send Kevin Correia to the mound.