Heston Kjerstad’s first career slam propels Orioles past Rangers 6-5

BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 29: Heston Kjerstad #13 of the Baltimore Orioles celebrates with Gunnar Henderson #2 after hitting a grand slam home run against the Texas Rangers during the fifth inning at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 29, 2024 in Baltimo

BALTIMORE (AP) — Rookie Heston Kjerstad hit a fifth-inning grand slam to put Baltimore ahead for good, and the Orioles held off the Texas Rangers 6-5 on Saturday night for their fourth straight victory.

Baltimore trailed 2-1 before using a double and two walks to load the bases for Kjerstad, who sent a 1-1 pitch from Michael Lorenzen (4-4) over the center-field wall. It was the fourth career homer and first slam for Kjerstad, the No. 2 pick in the 2020 draft.

"Close game. Sold-out stadium. Bases loaded. Those are the moments you want to be part of," Kjerstad said. "Anytime you can come through for the team and put runs on the board for our pitchers and help win a game, that’s huge. Big time."

Anthony Santander also homered for the Orioles, who took a one-game lead in the AL East over the New York Yankees. Baltimore has hit 60 home runs in June, an Orioles record for most in one month.

Corey Seager, Derek Hill, Nathan Lowe and Adolis García went deep for the Rangers, who have lost six straight for the second time this season.

Seager left in the fifth inning after being struck by a pitch on his left wrist thrown by rookie Cade Povich. The Rangers said the four-time All-Star will be re-evaluated on Sunday.

"The initial X-rays were negative, so that’s good news for us," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We’ll see where he’s at tomorrow. If we need another X-ray, we’ll do it. It got him pretty good, but we’re hoping for the best."

The defending World Series champions have dropped nine in a row on the road. Texas is nine games below .500 (37-46) for the first time since the end of the 2022 season.

"That’s a tough one for these guys not to come away with the win," Bochy said. "They played well, we created a lot of opportunities, we did swing the bats. A lot of good things, a lot of bad luck."

Povich (1-2) allowed two runs and five hits in five innings to earn his first major league victory.

Texas closed to 5-4 when Lowe hit a two-run drive off Bryan Baker in the sixth, but Santander tacked on an RBI double in the seventh.

After García hit his team-leading 16th homer for Texas in the eighth, the Rangers put two on with two outs before Jonah Heim’s deep fly to center was hauled in at the warning track.

Craig Kimbrel retired García on a flyball with two runners on in the ninth to end the Rangers’ comeback bid and earn his 19th save.

Santander offset Seager’s first-inning solo shot with one of his own leading off the second, his 22nd of the season and 13th in June.

Hill put Texas up 2-1 in the fourth with his first homer since 2022 and only his fifth in 299 career at-bats.

One inning later, Kjerstad thrilled the sellout crowd with his momentum-shifting grand slam. Soon after reaching the dugout, the 25-year-old put his blond curls on display by doffing his cap in response to a request for a curtain call.

"He was late with that curtain call. We’ve got to work on that," Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said with a grin. "That was five seconds too late. It lost its luster. I give the crowd credit for recognizing the moment. We just booted it in the dugout."


Rangers: Three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was in good spirits less than 24 hours after pitching into the sixth inning on Friday night in his second start since returning from the IL. He had been sidelined by back, thumb and shoulder issues. "I’m feeling much better. My thumb is getting where it needs to be," Scherzer said Saturday. "It’s been miserable these past two months. My radial nerve has been really bad, too. I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself on this, but it does feel like I’m starting to turn the corner." ... 3B Josh Jung, who has been on the injured list since April 2 with a fractured wrist, was supposed to take batting practice on Saturday. But the Rangers decided to push that back a few days because the injury "hasn’t quite calmed down yet," Bochy said.

Orioles: C Adley Rutschman returned to the lineup after sitting out Friday’s game with a finger injury from when he was struck by a foul ball Thursday night. ... 2B Jordan Westburg was back after missing Friday’s game with a sore knee. ... OF Austin Hays missed a fourth straight game after hurting his knee on the warning track Tuesday against Cleveland.


Baltimore will try to complete a four-game sweep on Sunday night, when Texas LHP Andrew Heaney (2-9, 4.17 ERA) starts against Cole Irvin (6-4, 3.74 ERA).