Orioles walk by Red Sox in 13th

Four bases on balls give team 3-2 victory, split of four-game series

April 09, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The first road trip of a long season is upon the Orioles, and they began a three-city tour with bags packed and their spirits lifted.

Left-hander Matt Riley held the Boston Red Sox to one earned run over 6 1/3 innings last night, leaving with the score tied, and Larry Bigbie walked with the bases loaded in the 13th to bring home Javy Lopez and give the Orioles a 3-2 victory before 31,121 at Camden Yards.

Red Sox reliever Bobby Jones walked four batters in the inning, enabling the Orioles to split the four-game series before heading to St. Petersburg, Fla., for a series against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. The trip also includes stops in Boston and Toronto.

Lopez drew a leadoff walk against Jones, the fifth reliever used by Boston manager Terry Francona. Jose Bautista failed to lay down a sacrifice bunt before striking out, but David Segui, Luis Matos and Bigbie were rewarded for their patience - Bigbie with the count full.

The Orioles had a chance to win in the 10th after Melvin Mora doubled off the scoreboard and took third on a wild pitch. Rafael Palmeiro was walked intentionally with one out, and Lopez lifted a fly ball into shallow center field. Johnny Damon made the catch and threw home, where Jason Varitek applied the chest-high tag.

Given a chance to take the lead in the 11th, the Red Sox also passed. They left the bases loaded, with Buddy Groom striking out Cesar Crespo to end the inning.

In the bottom half, Jay Gibbons led off with a single, but Bautista was called out by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez for leaving too soon after tagging on Segui's fly ball to center.

Breaking camp with so much youth in their starting rotation was a risky proposition for the Orioles, one that didn't bring its first reward until last night.

The final member of the 25-man roster to appear in a game, Riley carried a 2-1 lead into the sixth before Ellis Burks homered into the Orioles' bullpen with one out. Riley had retired nine in a row and held the Red Sox without a hit since Manny Ramirez delivered a run-scoring single in the first.

Riley walked the bases loaded in the seventh, the only out coming when pinch-hitter Crespo bunted foul with two strikes, before left-hander B.J. Ryan replaced him with the score tied 2-2. Riley slammed his glove on the bench, then paced the dugout as Ryan got the next two batters to line out.

Wearing a black sweatshirt to stay warm, Riley jumped to the top step of the dugout and tapped fists with Ryan. He wouldn't get a decision, but he made quite an impression.

Awarded a spot in the rotation after out of spring training, Riley outlasted knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who left with one out in the sixth inning and Javy Lopez on first base. Wakefield held the Orioles to three hits, but he walked five and threw 102 pitches.

The only hit off Wakefield through 3 1/3 innings was a bloop double by Lopez to open the second. Damon dived for the ball, trying unsuccessfully to knock it down at the last instant with a backhanded stab.

Never certain when his signature pitch will betray him, Wakefield walked the bases loaded with one out in the fourth. Segui lined a two-run single up the middle to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead, the ball eluding Wakefield's glove and deflecting off second base before rolling into the outfield.

The contrasts between Wakefield and Riley extended miles beyond their favorite pitches. Riley was appearing in his sixth major league game, 387 fewer than Wakefield, who broke into the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992.

The kid held up pretty well last night. He retired 14 of 15 after walking Kevin Millar in the first, and responded to another error from Melvin Mora by freezing Ramirez with a curveball to end the third.

Mora has four errors in four games, all of them coming on ground balls to his left. After allowing Bill Mueller to reach, he misplayed a sharp bouncer from Burks but recovered in time to get the out.

Riley used another curveball, a plus-pitch since his high school days, to strike out David McCarty in the fourth. Making his first career start against the Red Sox, he had them guessing wrong most of the night.

The Red Sox pushed across an unearned run in the first inning, taking advantage of Damon's leadoff single and an errant pickoff throw from Riley. Ramirez lined a 94-mph fastball into center field to give Boston a 1-0 lead.

Damon's single gave him six consecutive hits after beginning the season 0-for-9. Riley retired him on a grounder in the third to end the streak.

The Orioles won't return home until April 20. Perhaps a different setting will prove beneficial to leadoff hitter Brian Roberts, who went 0-for-15 with two walks in the series.

If manager Lee Mazzilli's patience is being tested, or if he's already began to consider alternatives atop the order, it didn't show last night.

"He hit the ball so well in spring training," Mazzilli said, explaining why he's not tempted to make a change. "There's cold weather and we've faced good pitching. That stuff has to be taken into account. There's no panic mode or worry."

Mazzilli said he doesn't sense that Roberts is pressing after being handed the starting job in spring training because of Jerry Hairston's fractured knuckle.

"He's put the ball in play, he's taking pitches," Mazzilli said. "I don't see him swinging at the first pitch and trying to get that hit. He's selective at the plate, he's looking to get on base. It's just that the balls aren't falling in. That's just the way it is."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla.

Time: 7:15

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

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (1-0, 1.59) vs. Devil Rays' Mark Hendrickson (9-9, 5.51 in 2003)

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