McClung in control as Brewers top O's

McClung in control as Brewers top O's

MILWAUKEE -- For the second time in three days, an unlikely Brewers starting pitcher took a no-hitter into the fifth inning as Seth McClung turned in a great performance to give the Brewers a 3-2 win over the Orioles on Saturday night at Miller Park.

McClung was the long man in the Brewers' bullpen at the beginning of the season, but instability in the rotation opened the door for him to convert back to a starter.

Since he took the job in the last week of May, McClung has firmly entrenched himself as manager Ned Yost's fifth starter. He's now 5-3 with an ERA of 3.79. Yost didn't just hand him the job either. The right-hander had to prove himself.

"For him, it was, 'OK, you want an opportunity? Here's an opportunity, let's see what you do with it,'" Yost said. "If he got knocked around the first three or four starts, we would have done something else, but he never let that happen.

"He came out and did everything we asked him to do: stay on the attack, throw strikes, work fast and stay with Jason Kendall. You can tell he really wants this opportunity. He's earned it and [the job] is his."

On Saturday night, McClung (5-3) pitched 6 2/3 strong innings, not allowing a hit until the second batter of the fifth inning -- Ramon Hernandez -- singled to left.

Despite the success he's found recently and the confidence Yost has shown in him, McClung still behaves as if his spot on the roster is never safe.

"I feel like I can be replaced at any time," McClung said. "That keeps me hungry."

After the first hit, the Orioles didn't waste any time putting the pressure on McClung. The righty was able to work out of situations when Baltimore had runners in scoring position in the fifth and sixth inning, but the Orioles finally got to him in the seventh.

"Today was a game where I got in a lot of trouble and was able to work out of that trouble and learn from it," McClung said.

"It was just certain little things," Yost said. "He got a little frustrated with himself that he missed a bunt sign [in the second inning] and came back out and walked a guy on four pitches, then he settled down and got back in his groove."

Pinch-hitter Oscar Salazar got ahold of a 1-1 curveball and hit it over the fence in center field for a two-run home run to put the only blemish on McClung's performance. McClung allowed just the two runs on only three hits, striking out six and walking five on the night.

"The next time up, [McClung] hit and made the last out and kind of rushed back out to the mound a little bit," Yost said. "Outside of [the little mistakes] and the one curveball to Salazar, man oh man, he had 6 2/3 really stout innings with only three hits.

"He just pitched a heck of a game. He's really taking advantage of this opportunity."

The Brewers jumped on Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera early with runs in the first and third innings to make the score 3-0. They scored their first run on two hits and a ground ball to the right side of the infield, while a homer by Corey Hart to left field tacked on two more. But Cabrera and the Orioles' bullpen reined in the Brewers' offense and held them scoreless from that point on.

"He just threw me an inside fastball and I was able to catch up to it," Hart said. "He was tough. Obviously he's big and he throws hard so he had a lot of deception going. He threw well but we were able to get a few runs, and they were enough."

The Milwaukee bullpen -- Brian Shouse and Salomon Torres -- came on in relief and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings to seal the win for McClung. Torres worked the ninth inning to record his 11th save of the season.

"We just come up with some big pitching," Hart said. "Torres has been unbelievable and Shouse came up big tonight. We've had some good performances out there in the bullpen this year."

The Brewers improved their record to 16-6 in one-run games, the best winning percentage in the Major Leagues this season. Only the Orioles and Cardinals -- with 17 -- have more wins in those situations.

"There's a lot to be said for winning one-run games," Yost said. "You have to win those one-run games. It means you're playing fundamentally sound baseball, taking advantage of opportunities, your pitching is going good and you've got timely hitting.

"It's the mark of a pretty good team."

Dave Fultz is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.