Tejada, O's pound Red Sox

Shortstop has monster game at Fenway with catch, 5 RBIs to beat Martinez, 10-5

July 22, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - When Miguel Tejada became the surprise winner of last week's Home Run Derby, he refused to bask in the moment alone.

His thoughts turned quickly to the Orioles, the team that made him its $72 million prize last winter before stumbling through a miserable first half.

Not to worry, Tejada said. If a little guy like him could overpower all those big sluggers at the All-Star Game, a downtrodden team such as the Orioles could surely expect better things to come.

So far, Tejada is making good on that promise. Last night at Fenway Park, he made one of the finest defensive plays of the season and delivered two crushing offensive blows against Pedro Martinez, leading the Orioles to a 10-5 victory over the Boston Red Sox.

Martinez (10-4) hadn't lost a game since May 16, but the Orioles pounded him for eight runs in 6 2/3 innings to break his personal seven-game winning streak and extend their own winning streak to three.

David Newhan had four hits, including the team's first inside-the-park home run in 14 years, and Melvin Mora added three hits for the Orioles, who are 5-2 since Tejada made that optimistic look into his crystal ball during the All-Star break.

"He does some amazing things," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

After slugging a two-run homer in each of the team's victories at Kansas City this week, Tejada added five RBIs last night, giving him nine RBIs in the past three games and 85 for the season.

Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, Tejada's good friend from the Dominican Republic, leads the American League with 87 RBIs. Eight days after serving as Tejada's biggest cheerleader during the home run contest, Ortiz watched him spoil New England's night.

Tejada saved two runs for winning pitcher Erik Bedard (4-4) with a sensational, diving catch in the first inning. With two outs, the Red Sox had runners on second and third when Jason Varitek hit a ball that looked destined to land in center field for a bloop, two-run single.

"I was like, `Oh no, don't fall,'" Bedard said.

Then, from out of nowhere, Tejada raced back on the ball and made a diving catch. He never gave up on the play and stretched every inch of his 5-foot-9 frame to make the play. When he came off the field, half of the team emerged from the dugout to congratulate him.

"That," Bedard said, "was unbelievable."

Three innings later, Tejada lined a two-run triple off Martinez, giving the Orioles a 2-0 lead.

Boston came back to tie the score in the fourth on a three-run homer by Gabe Kapler, but Tejada put the Orioles back ahead in the sixth, when he drilled a two-run single to left off Martinez.

The Orioles used to cower at the mere sight of Martinez. But this season, he has taken the mound three times against them, and the Orioles have won every time.

"We're just having fun right now," Tejada said. "We were in last place, and we're just trying to improve for next year. At the same time, this whole team is hungry. We're hungry to win because we lost too many games in the first half."

When Tejada plays like this, anything seems possible. He's starting to make believers out of the Orioles.

How else can you explain what Newhan did with two outs in the seventh inning? With the Orioles clinging to a 6-4 lead, Newhan hit a two-run, inside-the-park home run off the center-field wall.

Newhan, who went 4-for-5 to raise his mind-boggling average to .430, drilled a pitch from Martinez and then flashed his sprinter speed. Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon went back on the ball and had to retreat toward the field after the ball bounced off the ball.

As Newhan sped around the bases, the Red Sox tried their own relay - Damon to left fielder Manny Ramirez to shortstop Mark Bellhorn to catcher Varitek. The whole thing was rather comical. For some reason, Ramirez decided to make a diving catch during the relay, and Newhan slid home well ahead of the third throw.

It was the 18th inside-the-park homer in Orioles history, and their first since Phil Bradley hit one off New York Yankees pitcher Greg Cadaret on June 8, 1990, at Memorial Stadium.

"David Newhan has been a godsend for this team," said Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo. "I don't know where we'd be without him."

Bedard earned his first win in four July starts, holding the Red Sox to four runs on five hits over six innings.

"Our kid did a pretty good job," Mazzilli said of Bedard. "I thought he made one bad pitch [on Kapler's home run] the whole game."

Tejada's tear

Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada has been on a roll since the All-Star break, especially in the past three games. A look:

Date Opp. AB H HR RBI BB

7-15 T.B. 3 0 0 0 2

7-16 T.B. 3 0 0 0 1

7-17 T.B. 4 3 0 1 0

7-18 T.B. 4 0 0 0 0

7-19 K.C. 4 1 1 2 1

7-20 K.C. 5 2 1 2 0

7-21 Bos. 5 3 0 5 0

Totals 28 9 2 10 4

Orioles today

Opponent: Boston Red Sox in day/night doubleheader

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Times: 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 20 (Game 1); Comcast SportsNet (Game 2)/WBAL (1090 AM)

Game 1 starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (7-6, 3.76) vs. Red Sox's Frank Castillo (0-0, 0.00)

Game 2 starters: Orioles' Dave Borkowski (1-1, 3.31) vs. Red Sox's Tim Wakefield (5-6, 4.43)

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