20-hit parade keeps Orioles on the march

Tuesday night's 11-3 win over Angels is 8th in row, continues offensive roll

August 12, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ANAHEIM, CALIF. — Late Orioles game: Last night's game between the Orioles and Angels in Anaheim, Calif., ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at www.baltimoresun.com.

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Like a heavyweight boxer who decided to change his strategy in the middle of a fight, the Orioles no longer saw the benefit of peppering the Anaheim Angels with jabs in Tuesday's night's opener of a three-game series.

They smacked around undefeated Aaron Sele for five innings, scoring enough to send him to the showers, but kept leaving runners on base - and the Angels within striking distance. They were ahead on points, but creeping toward a close decision.

The heaviest blows were landed late - a two-run single by David Newhan and a three-run homer by Miguel Tejada in a five-run eighth inning.

Close? The Orioles' eighth straight victory, 11-3, was a pure knockout.

They finished with a season-high 20 hits, including four by Brian Roberts, three by Newhan and Larry Bigbie's fourth homer in six games. Every starter had a hit by the fifth inning.

In their 12 games before last night, the Orioles were batting .312 and averaging 6.8 runs. The outcome stayed in doubt for so long Tuesday because they stranded 16 runners.

"I feel good about the offense," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "I feel like this team could strike at any time. You never want to leave so many men on base, but we have the ability to come back."

B.J. Surhoff twice made the last out with the bases loaded in the first four innings, but the Orioles stopped being wasteful as the game moved along.

Tejada's shot in the eighth gave him five RBIs in the game and 106 overall, most in the majors. He also has 30 RBIs in 25 games since the break.

"Anytime you have a guy like him, you feel lucky," Mazzilli said. "The kid's a player, no doubt about it."

Are the Orioles' contenders? It's almost as if the clubhouse code is to remain silent on such issues. Why ruin a good thing?

"Our goal in the second half was to get above the .500 mark and take over third place," Bigbie said. "There's still a lot of baseball left. We just need to keep it simple. We don't stretch it out too far. We've got to take it one step at a time."

Sometimes, they're baby steps, like the ones Daniel Cabrera is taking.

The rookie improved to 9-5 by winning for the first time since July 20. He walked five and threw 107 pitches in six innings, but left with a 6-3 lead.

"I thought at times he was overthrowing," Mazzilli said. "He was trying to overpower everyone. He threw a lot of pitches, but that's OK. He's still a baby out there."

Sele was the one being spanked. The Orioles had 13 hits off him in 4 2/3 innings, resulting in his first loss in eight decisions, and putting them within three games of .500 for the first time in two months.

"The guys feel good about what's going on," Mazzilli said. "It's fun to play that way, no question. You pitch, you hit, and you roll the dice and see what happens."

The game's start was delayed while the Angels held a ceremony for closer Troy Percival, who recently became the 18th pitcher in history to achieve 300 saves. They bestowed gifts upon him, and former Angel Chuck Finley made a surprise appearance.

The Orioles hoped it was the only time they'd see Percival, whose appearances come with a ninth-inning lead to protect. He didn't have one Tuesday night, as the Orioles moved into sole possession of third place in the American League East.

While Anaheim's winning streak ended at five, the Orioles extended theirs a little further going into last night. It was their longest stretch of victories since September 1999, when they won 13 consecutive games.

"Eight in a row, you can't really expect that," Bigbie said, "but everything has started to click."

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