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Orioles hit 3 HRS, blow 6-run lead before bouncing back to beat Reds 9-7 for 3-game sweep

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BALTIMORE — J.J. Hardy hit a tiebreaking two-run single in the seventh inning, and the Baltimore Orioles gave away a six-run lead before rebounding to beat the Cincinnati Reds 9-7 Thursday night for a three-game sweep.

After completing a 9-2 homestand against Tampa Bay, Minnesota and the Reds, the AL East-leading Orioles (82-57) are assured a third straight winning season for the first time since 1992-94.

PHOTO: Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of an interleague baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mike Leake throws to the Baltimore Orioles in the first inning of an interleague baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Nelson Cruz hit his major-league leading 37th home run in a six-run first inning, but the Reds chipped away and finally pulled even with a four-run seventh.

Nick Markakis led off the bottom half with a single off Manny Parra (0-2), and Hardy put Baltimore back in front with a bases-loaded single on a 3-1 pitch from Sam LeCure.

Tommy Hunter (3-2) worked 1 1-3 innings and Zach Britton got three outs for his 33rd save.

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