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 like 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.

The Orioles 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 had 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.

"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 David 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, raising 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 wall.

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, 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."

At first, it looked like his outing might be a disaster. Damon walked and Bellhorn reached on an infield single to start the first inning, and a crowd of 35,023 - the 110th consecutive sellout at Fenway - stirred.

But Bedard struck out Ortiz and Ramirez - two players who have combined for 53 home runs this season - with a pair of brilliant 88-mph cut-fastballs.

Then came Tejada's catch. That had the Orioles feeling good about themselves, even though they couldn't manage anything against Martinez, who retired the first 10 batters he faced.

Finally, with one out in the fourth, Newhan reached on an infield single. Martinez shattered his bat, but the ball trickled toward third base, and Newhan reached easily.

It was the break the Orioles needed. Melvin Mora doubled high off the Green Monster, moving the runners to second and third, and then Tejada hit his liner to center.

On that play, Damon tried to make a diving catch, but the ball eluded his glove, and Tejada sped around the bases, pointing to the dugout in celebration after he reached third.

Rafael Palmeiro made it 3-0 when he lined another ball to right field for a sacrifice fly.

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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