Tejada's HR in 11th lifts O's over Red Sox

Shortstop gets first RBI in Orioles uniform, sparks 5-run 11th in 12-7 victory

`It's big because I helped the team'

Roberts, Segui hit homers for Orioles

Ponson allows seven runs but avoids loss

April 16, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Two days of rain turned the Orioles' latest trip to Fenway Park into a one-game showdown against the Boston Red Sox last night: Sidney Ponson vs. Pedro Martinez, Opening Night revisited.

Battle of aces? More like a battle of jokers.

Both pitchers gave up seven runs before each team's bullpen stepped in and gave the game a measure of respectability. The contest went from a scoring spree to a scoring drought, and the thirstiest batter in the Orioles' lineup finally won it.

Miguel Tejada, who had yet to drive in a run this season, led off the 11th inning with a home run, and the Orioles piled on for a 12-7 victory.

Tejada has gone 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position, and he had a series of misplays on potential double-play balls last night. But all was forgiven once he lofted a 2-2 breaking pitch off Red Sox reliever Bronson Arroyo off the top of the Green Monster for the home run.

A huge smile crossed Tejada's face as he touched home plate and turned toward the Orioles' dugout. After signing a six-year, $72 million contract, the former American League Most Valuable Player finally delivered a big moment for his new team.

"This is big for me because I haven't been driving in a lot of runs," Tejada said. "It's big because I helped the team, and I think after we get a win like that, everybody's just pumped up, and after that everybody knows we can beat anybody."

The Orioles (4-4) headed to Toronto, where they'll begin a three-game series tonight against the Blue Jays, riding their best eight-game start since they were 4-4 in 2001.

This one was a tale of two different baseball games.

The Orioles, who trailed 5-2 and 7-4 early, got a three-run home run from David Segui in the fifth inning to tie it 7-7. Then, the teams played 11 consecutive scoreless half-innings, capped with a spectacular catch by Orioles center fielder Luis Matos to end the 10th inning.

Finally in the 11th, Tejada hit his home run, and the Orioles wound up batting around, as the Red Sox used their seventh, eighth and ninth pitchers of the game.

"This is a confident team, and they believe they can come back," said Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli. "I'm very proud of those guys. The guys that didn't hit early in the game came back. Matos saved the game defensively with the play he made. The bullpen came in and did a great job again. It was impressive."

Ponson needed 95 pitches to get through four innings and was charged with seven runs on eight hits, as his ERA ballooned to 5.51.

"The bullpen came in and did a great job, and Matos saved the game in the 10th," Ponson said. "Those guys are the heroes. I didn't do nothing."

The Orioles took Ponson off the hook for the loss in the fifth. Martinez retired the first two batters of that inning, but Javy Lopez doubled, Jay Gibbons walked and Segui followed with his homer to right-center.

The home run came on the 97th pitch of the night for Martinez - a breaking pitch up and in. It was Segui's first homer since July 20, 2003. He entered the night batting .176.

Martinez had another one of those performances that causes blood pressures to rise throughout Red Sox Nation. His fastball was consistently clocked below 90 mph, and the balls that should have zigged, zagged.

He allowed eight hits and four walks in his five innings. Over the past two seasons at Fenway Park, Martinez has posted a 16.81 ERA against the Orioles.

"I still have a lot of confidence that even when he doesn't have his A-game, he's still a pretty good pitcher," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona. "I will be very excited to send him out on his next outing."

Rodrigo Lopez did what Ponson couldn't do, holding the Red Sox scoreless for three innings. Lopez allowed one hit and two walks, as he continues to play a pivotal role out of the bullpen.

In four appearances, spanning six innings, Lopez has yet to allow a run.

B.J. Ryan relieved Lopez to start the eighth and extended his mastery, pitching two scoreless innings and allowing just one hit. Ryan has yet to allow a run in 6 1/3 innings this season.

This time, the Orioles had a chance to grab the lead in the ninth inning, and closer Jorge Julio wasn't even warming up. Had they gone ahead, Ryan presumably would have been asked to get the save.

Mazzilli used Mike DeJean and Buddy Groom in the 10th inning, and the Red Sox almost won it there. They loaded the bases, and Bill Mueller drilled a pitch from Groom into the left-center gap.

Larry Bigbie chased the ball from left field, and Matos chased it from center. It looked like they might collide, but Matos somehow made a back-handed snag of the ball before he ran into the Green Monster.

"I just went hard to the ball because that was the ballgame right there," Matos said. "I was calling it, but it was too loud, so I knew for sure [Bigbie] wasn't going to hear me, and I wasn't going to hear him. We just did the right thing. He went in the front, and I went in back. It's good I caught the ball and we didn't crash each other."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: SkyDome, Toronto

Time: 7:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Matt Riley (0-0, 1.42) vs. Blue Jays' Miguel Batista (0-1, 5.25)

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