Chen made his long-awaited return Wednesday night, and after he threw seven innings of three-hit ball in a 6-1 win over the Texas Rangers, it was hard to determine who felt the happiest: the Taiwanese left-hander, the other 24 players in the clubhouse or manager Buck Showalter.
"Winning the ballgame is real huge to me," Chen said through an interpreter. "I proved myself tonight. I'm healthy, and I'm back. I feel like I helped the team to win. Everything is for the Orioles."
Chen (4-3) had not pitched since May 12 because of a strained right oblique. The left-hander allowed one run, walked three and struck out four.
"I know he's been anxious to get back with the club and make a contribution," Showalter said. "It's been a tough, tough road for him."
And for the Orioles, who went through a variety of pitchers during his absence in an effort to fill out the rotation.
"Missed him," Showalter said. "Glad to have him back."
So were his teammates, who built a 6-0 lead in the fourth inning and coasted to the finish.
"He's proven to be a guy who can get late in the games, and that's huge for us," second baseman Brian Roberts said. "That's huge for every rotation, but I think it sets a really good tone for everybody else. For him to come back after being out two months, against that kind of lineup, is very impressive."
Adrian Beltre extended his hitting streak to 12 games and drove in a run for the Rangers, whose four-game road winning streak ended. Texas had scored at least five runs in six consecutive games, but Chen put an end to that streak.
"You've got to give him credit," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "He may not have pitched in a while, but he certainly didn't look like it out there tonight."
Nolan Reimold hit a three-run homer and Manny Machado had three hits and an RBI for the Orioles, who won for only the third time in nine games. Baltimore will seek a split of the four-game series on Thursday night.
Major league home run leader Chris Davis went 0 for 3 with a walk and is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. He hasn't gotten a hit since Major League Baseball announced he was the leading vote getter in All-Star fan balloting.
Reimold was a late replacement at designated hitter for Chris Dickerson, who was scratched with a strained left shoulder. Batting ninth in the order, Reimold delivered his first home run since May 4 to put Baltimore up 6-0 in the fourth inning against Josh Lindblom (1-3).
Reimold was on the disabled list from May 12 to July 1 and was playing in only his 37th game of the season.
"It felt good that I was able to come through," he said. "Something to build on."
Lindblom gave up six runs, nine hits and four walks in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander started for Nick Tepesch, who went on the disabled list Sunday.
"I compete, and really I think that's all you try and do as a starter," said Lindblom, who has split time between the rotation and bullpen. "You go out and give your team a chance to win."
The Orioles used a four-run fourth to take a 6-0 lead. Lindblom walked the first two batters before Brian Roberts hit a liner to center that bounced out of the glove of Engel Beltre and off the wall. It went for an RBI single, and Reimold followed with a towering fly ball that carried into the left-field seats, a few feet inside the foul pole.
Chen used 21 pitches in a 1-2-3 first inning, and Lindblom needed 31 to get through a bottom half in which the Orioles got two singles.
Baltimore went up 2-0 in the third. After Nate McLouth beat out an infield roller and Machado tripled to center, a wild pitch allowed Machado to score.
Chen retired 11 of the first 12 batters he faced, allowing only a walk until Beltre singled with two outs in the fourth.
Just like old times.
"For the last year and a half he was a consistent force for our rotation," catcher Matt Wieters said. "You know he's going to go out there and give you everything he has and compete. "
- Machado leads the majors with 14 three-hit games. He is tied for the lead with 36 multihit games.
- Miguel Gonzalez (6-3) will take the mound for Baltimore in the series finale.
- In addition to activating Chen from the DL, the Orioles also recalled RHP Josh Stinson from Triple-A Norfolk.
- Jurickson Profar, who usually plays the infield, made his second career start in left field for Texas.
- Rangers relievers retired 21 straight batters before Nick Markakis singled off Cory Burns in the sixth.