Gibbons hits back, decks Indians, 10-7

Hurt by intentional walk in front of him, Oriole clears bases in comeback

Team rallies from 4-0, 7-4 deficits

`These guys don't stop,' Mazzilli says

Ainsworth gives up two 3-run homers

May 09, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons was standing in the late afternoon shadows at Camden Yards yesterday when he realized the Cleveland Indians were doing him baseball's ultimate disservice.

Leading by three runs with two outs in the seventh inning, Cleveland walked Javy Lopez intentionally, even though that loaded the bases and brought Gibbons to the plate representing the go-ahead run.

Mired in a two-week slump, Gibbons said he had been having trouble sleeping. This was quite the wake-up call.

"I was just like, man, have some pride," Gibbons said. "Hit the ball hard, and have a good at-bat. It's been a while since that had happened, and I really wanted to come through."

Gibbons got a pitch he liked from Cleveland left-hander Scott Stewart, and hit a game-tying double down the right-field line. Moments later, Gibbons scored on a bloop single by B.J. Surhoff, and soon the Orioles were celebrating a 10-7 victory before 30,687 at Camden Yards.

For the Orioles, it was an afternoon spent overcoming their shortcomings, as they came back from deficits of 4-0 and 7-4 to win for the third time in four games. Today, they will send Eric DuBose to the mound, looking to complete a three-game sweep.

"Oh boy, I'll tell you what, these guys don't stop," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "You come back and fight to tie the game [4-4 in the fourth inning], and then you're down three runs. It's very easy to just get through the game. But they just kept coming back."

Orioles starter Kurt Ainsworth had another rough outing, giving up a three-run homer to Jody Gerut in the third inning, and another three-run blast to Travis Hafner in the fifth that put the Indians ahead 7-4.

Once again, walks were a major problem for the Orioles.

Both teams wore throwback uniforms, circa 1954, commemorating the Orioles' 50th anniversary in Baltimore, but the Orioles' pitching staff has been doing an impersonation of the 1954 staff all season.

The 1954 team allowed a major league-worst 4.5 walks per game en route to a 54-100 finish. Fifty years later, the team is having even more trouble with its control. Including the seven walks they issued yesterday, the Orioles have now issued 141 for the season, a major league-worst 5.2 per game.

Ainsworth has given up 14 walks in his past three starts, including five yesterday, three of which led directly to runs.

"I can live with the home runs and the runs," Ainsworth said. "But the free passes are just ridiculous."

The Orioles scored four runs in the fourth inning off Indians starter Jake Westbrook, erasing Ainsworth's early deficit with a run-scoring single from Luis Matos, a two-run double from Larry Bigbie and a run-scoring double by Melvin Mora.

But Ainsworth put them right back in the hole when he surrendered the three-run homer to Hafner in the fifth. Ainsworth was charged with seven runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 7.36.

John Parrish (3-1) came on to pitch 2 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and the Orioles rewarded him with another victory.

The winning rally was an emotional roller coaster, and once again, it started with the top of the order. Leadoff man Brian Roberts singled, and Mora doubled, putting runners at second and third with no outs.

But Miguel Tejada lined out to shortstop, and Rafael Palmeiro lined out to second on a ball that probably would have scored two runs if Cleveland hadn't overloaded the right side of the infield with a defensive shift.

"Two bullets, you've got second and third, and we don't have any runs in," Mazzilli said. "What are you going to do?"

Stewart had come in to face Palmeiro, toting a 7.71 ERA, and he walked the right-handed-hitting Lopez to get to Gibbons, who was hitting .135 against left-handed pitching this season.

"We know how hot [Lopez] is," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "You're going lefty on lefty all the way."

Mazzilli said he and Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo still liked the matchup.

"Obviously [Wedge] had to make that move, but that's the time where you're looking to shine," Mazzilli said.

Gibbons reached out to pull a cut-fastball from Stewart down the line, and after racing all the way from first, Lopez slid home with the tying run. Then Surhoff, another left-handed hitter, dropped his bloop single about a foot inside the left-field line.

"Gibbons is the one who had the big hit," Surhoff said.

Gibbons was riding a 6-for-45 slump coming into the game, but he added a run-scoring single in the eighth inning, as the Orioles added two more runs to their lead. Gibbons finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs, raising his average to .223.

Asked if he hoped it changes his fortunes, Gibbons said, "I hope so, so we don't have to keep talking about it."

Orioles today

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Indians' Jason Davis (1-2, 4.58) vs. Orioles' Eric DuBose (3-2, 3.47)

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