Bordick, Stephens, break through

Off DL, shortstop drives in go-ahead run vs. Tigers

starter earns 1st win, 7-3

August 18, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The song "Down Under" blared over the public address system at Camden Yards as the Orioles' starting pitcher walked across the field before last night's game. So much for subtle references. The only thing missing was a ceremonial first boomerang.

Australian native John Stephens made his home debut with the Orioles, and he brought the usual stuff, which was good enough for his first major-league win. But it might not have come if the lineup kept the usual look, which didn't include shortstop Mike Bordick for the past month.

One game, two nice story lines.

Activated from the disabled list earlier in the day, Bordick knocked in the go-ahead run with two outs in the seventh inning, and the Orioles capitalized on a pitching change that backfired on the Detroit Tigers in a 7-3 victory before 34,007.

Bordick grounded a single into left field off reliever Fernando Rodney to deliver Marty Cordova for a 4-3 lead. The Orioles had five hits in the inning, including a single by catcher Geronimo Gil that tied the score, and two walks.

Though Rodney stood in front of him, Bordick was looking over his shoulder, expecting to be removed for a pinch hitter. The bench included left-handers Jay Gibbons and Chris Singleton, but manager Mike Hargrove stuck with a player who missed the past 29 games while recovering from a fractured kneecap.

"Everybody loves to be in those situations," said Bordick, who grounded out his first two trips. "I honestly didn't think he was going to let me hit since I hadn't faced live pitching, but I hustled up there before he could pull me back."

Hargrove had no such intentions.

"He's a veteran player who's been in the postseason," Hargrove said. "He has the experience to draw on to produce in those situations. It doesn't always mean it's going to happen, but he obviously came up big for us."

Bordick's knee survived a hard slide into home, where catcher Brandon Inge applied the tag to end the seventh. Gil already scored on Jerry Hairston's single, but Bordick had everyone in the Orioles' dugout holding their breath.

"Inge buried him pretty good," Hargrove said.

"It actually felt good," Bordick said. "I knew it was going to be a close play, and I got to test it right out of the chute."

The game wasn't close after the Orioles added two more runs in the eighth and rewarded Stephens (1-2), who was making his fourth start since being recalled from Triple-A Rochester on June 29. Stephens overcame a two-run homer by Carlos Pena, which gave Detroit a 3-1 lead, while going seven innings for the second time in a week. The radar gun clocked his fastball at 81 mph, his curveball at 59.

Stephens also worked through the seventh in Sunday's start against the Tigers, losing, 2-1, at Comerica Park. He struck out a career-high eight last night, giving him 14 against Detroit. But he might have been saddled with another loss if Mark Redman hadn't fallen during the decisive inning.

Redman (7-11) held the Orioles to two hits through the sixth, with their only run coming on a sacrifice fly by Chris Richard. He retired 10 in a row before walking Gary Matthews to lead off the seventh. Redman's right knee buckled while releasing his last pitch to Matthews, but he stayed in the game after a brief stroll around the mound and a few warm-up tosses.

"When he got back up and was throwing practice pitches, he was landing real gingerly, like he was afraid to come down on it," Hargrove said.

Tony Batista struck out, but Jeff Conine poked a single into center for the Orioles' first hit since the third inning. Marty Cordova followed with a run-scoring single, and manager Luis Pujols called upon left-hander Jamie Walker. Richard flied to left on the first pitch he saw before Gil bounced a single into left off Rodney.

That brought up Bordick, who pulled a 2-2 pitch into left field. He also started two double plays and extended his errorless streak to 74 games.

"The last couple days I've had the butterflies thinking about this," he said. "I get nervous for every game, but when you miss a month and you're watching your teammates run out there ever night playing hard, you just want to be out there so bad and contribute."

Pena gave Detroit its only lead with his blast to right-center field, but Stephens already had gotten through the first inning without allowing a run - something he failed to do in three previous starts. He hasn't walked a batter in his past two games.

"He flips that curveball up there," Bordick said, "and that fastball looks like it's 100 mph."

One of Stephens' fastballs was mistakenly posted at 50 mph. It only seemed that slow.

"Everything was working tonight, especially the curveball," Stephens said, finally able to reach his locker after doing on-field interviews and signing autographs. "I was throwing that more than anything else. And when that gets over, it's a lot easier.

"This feels great, like no other feeling before."

Orioles today

Opponent:Detroit Tigers

Site:Camden Yards

Time:1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Tigers' Brian Powell (1-2, 4.39) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (5-11, 4.98)

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.