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

Roberts, Segui also hit homers

After 2 rainouts, Orioles get back in win column

Ponson gives up 7 runs

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 last night against the Boston Red Sox: Sidney Ponson vs. Pedro Martinez, Opening Night revisited.

Battle of aces? How about 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 game 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 is 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.

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

Last night was a tale of two different baseball games. The Orioles got a three-run home run from David Segui to tie the game 7-7 in the fifth inning. Then, the teams played 11 consecutive scoreless half-innings. Neither team would budge.

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.

It was another horrific outing for Ponson against the Red Sox. Even with his 5 2/3 -inning performance in the Orioles' 7-2 Opening Night win, Ponson is 2-9 in his career against the Red Sox with a 6.67 ERA.

This time, the Orioles quickly took Ponson off the hook for the loss.

Martinez retired the first two batters in the fifth, but Javy Lopez doubled, Jay Gibbons walked and Segui followed with his three-run homer.

The home run came on the 97th pitch of the night for Martinez. It was Segui's first homer since July 20, 2003.

Martinez had another one of those performances that cause 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.

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 an important 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 continued 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, and manager Lee Mazzilli's confidence in him only keeps growing.

Last night, 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 ended 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 Luis Matos chased it from center. It looked like they might collide, but Matos somehow snagged the ball before he ran into the Green Monster.

That set the stage for Tejada's homer in the 11th.

By then the early game rustiness had worn off. Both teams were off Monday, and the games Tuesday and Wednesday night were both rained out.

The skies cleared yesterday, and the game-time temperature was 50 degrees, only seven degrees warmer than the April 4 opener at Camden Yards.

Brian Roberts, seemingly unfazed by the layoff, led off the game with a home run, drilling a 2-1 fastball from Martinez into the Red Sox bullpen. It was the first leadoff home run of Roberts' career.

The Orioles made it 2-0 in the second inning, when Matos drew a two-out walk and scored on Bigbie's double into the right-field corner.

But Ponson quickly let the two-run lead disappear.

The second inning turned into a five-run, 30-pitch disaster. Ponson issued two walks in the inning, including a leadoff freebie to Kevin Millar. He had Mark Bellhorn, the Red Sox light-hitting No. 8 hitter, buried in the count 0-2 and threw four straight balls to load the bases.

For a moment it looked like those sins would go unpunished, as Ponson got Pokey Reese to foul out. But Johnny Damon hit a two-run single to right field, and Bill Mueller hit Ponson's next pitch for a three-run homer that curled around the right-field foul pole.

In two pitches, the Orioles went from leading 2-0 to trailing 5-2. The Orioles came back with two runs in the fourth, as Matos had an RBI groundout, and Bigbie had a run-scoring single.

Once again, Ponson couldn't maintain the momentum. The Red Sox started their half of the fourth with three consecutive singles, and once again the damage started at the bottom. Bellhorn hit a line drive to left, Reese reached on a bunt single, and then Damon made it 6-4 with an opposite-field single down the third-base line.

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