Cabrera fends off Tigers in 8-4 win

Rookie escapes jam in 5th, Parrish takes it from there as Orioles win 2nd in row

May 30, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

DETROIT - No team understands the tricky science of developing young starting pitchers better than the Detroit Tigers, and last night, that hard-earned knowledge almost helped them spoil another win for Orioles rookie Daniel Cabrera.

After scoring seven early runs against Jeremy Bonderman - one of the young guns who has taken his lumps during Detroit's latest pitching experiment - the Orioles thought they might cruise to an easy victory.

But by the fifth inning, the Tigers used a patient approach to put Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli through some anxious moments.

Mazzilli let Cabrera pitch out of a bases-loaded, full-count jam in the fifth and had left-handed reliever John Parrish do the rest in an 8-4 victory before 30,440 at Comerica Park.

Looking nowhere near as dominant as he did in his first two major league starts, Cabrera (3-1) still managed to pitch the Orioles to their second straight victory.

"What pitcher's not happy to make four starts and get three wins?" Cabrera said. "Who's not happy about that?"

At 22-23, the Orioles can return to the .500 mark and complete a three-game sweep with a win in today's series finale, with left-hander Erik Bedard facing Tigers lefty Mike Maroth.

A year ago, Maroth lost 21 games, becoming the first pitcher to do that since Oakland's Brian Kingman lost 20 in 1980. Bonderman lived his own personal hell last year, becoming the first major league pitcher aged 20 or younger to lose 19.

With a woeful offense, the Tigers finished 43-119. But those pitchers are back this season, and the lineup has improved, and Detroit (22-26) actually feels like it can compete in the American League Central.

For the Orioles, it's different.

They made their big offensive improvements last offseason, so the stakes are a little higher for their young staff. Cabrera turned 23 on Friday, and so far he's handled the pressure extremely well.

This time, he held the Tigers to three runs, two earned, despite allowing seven hits and four walks over five innings.

The Orioles jumped to a 7-1 lead in the third inning, scoring one in the first, four in the second and two in the third. Jerry Hairston had two RBIs, and Larry Bigbie had three during the early outburst.

Bonderman (4-4) faced 17 batters and allowed 10 hits, one walk and two sacrifice bunts.

"That kid's a pretty good pitcher," Mazzilli said. "We got the hits when we needed to."

But the Tigers' bullpen started shutting down the Orioles, and the tension mounted in the fifth, after Detroit had trimmed the margin to 7-3.

Cabrera brought the tying run to the plate that inning, as he allowed a single and two walks to load the bases for Brandon Inge.

Mazzilli had Parrish warming in the bullpen, but he knew what another out could mean for Cabrera's confidence. A starting pitcher must go five innings to get a win, so Cabrera needed that last out.

But Mazzilli said Inge was going to be Cabrera's last batter, no matter what.

"You try to get him a win," Mazzilli said. "But the bottom line is your team's got to get the win."

So with Parrish ready, Mazzilli stayed with Cabrera, who fell behind in the count 3-1, before Inge fouled off a fastball and grounded the next one to Hairston at second base, ending the inning.

With Cabrera at 94 pitches, Mazzilli had Parrish start the sixth, and the way the Orioles' bullpen has struggled of late, it looked like they had a long 12 outs ahead of them.

To that point, neither team had gone through a 1-2-3 inning. But Parrish came on and did that three times. He retired the first nine batters he faced, and Mazzilli let him finish the ninth to earn his first major league save.

"Good for him," Mazzilli said. "I'm happy for him. He needed that."

Mazzilli said his plan was to have Parrish get the team to the seventh, but with the left-hander cruising he figured why take him out?

"Cabrera got out of that [fifth inning] with a big pitch, and with our bullpen, you never know," Parrish said. "Hopefully it picks everybody up and gets them going."

Detroit was equally stingy with the Orioles in the late innings, but Miguel Tejada led off the ninth inning with a home run over the right-field fence, stretching the lead to 8-3.

Tejada has homered in three straight games and now has eight on the season.

Orioles today

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Comerica Park, Detroit

Time: 1:05 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Erik Bedard (1-2, 4.91) vs. Tigers' Mike Maroth (4-3, 4.91)

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