Fading Cabrera falls short again, going 2 2/3

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

O's rookie fails to survive 4th for 3rd game in a row

Tejada struggles in return

Notebook

August 27, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. - The Orioles' best starting pitcher of the first half has turned into one of their least dependable of late.

Daniel Cabrera failed to make it past the fourth inning for the third consecutive start yesterday in a 9-4 loss to Oakland.

He gave up a three-run homer to Erubiel Durazo in the second inning and couldn't capitalize when the Orioles came back to give him a 4-3 lead in the third.

The A's came back and grabbed the lead with two runs that inning, and Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli pulled Cabrera from the game.

Cabrera (9-7) allowed five runs on four hits and five walks in 2 2/3 innings, raising his ERA to 4.94.

"I don't know what happened," Cabrera said, speaking of the game, and perhaps his season.

In nine starts since the All-Star break, Cabrera is 3-4 with a 8.65 ERA. He insists the problem isn't fatigue, even though he has pitched a career-high 147 2/3 innings this year, counting his time at Double-A Bowie.

"I don't feel tired," he said. "My velocity on my fastball is 94-95 [mph]. That's what it was all year. This is the major leagues. They're all good hitters here."

Tejada denies pressing

Miguel Tejada went 1-for-4 yesterday, with the only hit coming on a ball A's shortstop Bobby Crosby lost in the sun.

With the Orioles trailing 6-4 at the time, Tejada tried stretching that single into a double, but the A's threw him out.

In seven games against his former team, Tejada hit .190 (4-for-21).

Oakland manager Ken Macha said, "[Tejada] gets into that thing where he tries too hard. I think coming back here, he wanted to have a great series."

But Tejada disagreed.

"I'm not trying too hard," he said. "They just made me out. They pitched me good."

Big impression

Orioles pitching coach Ray Miller said he saw enough from Bruce Chen on Wednesday to suggest he could become a successful big league pitcher again.

Promoted from Triple-A Ottawa, Chen tossed seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits, but Orioles reliever B.J. Ryan gave up a three-run, walk-off homer to Marco Scutaro, and the A's had a 3-0 victory.

"He's not overpowering," Miller said of Chen, "but he's got a real good curveball, and real good changeup. If he throws strike one and changes speeds, he's going to be pretty effective here."

The left-hander's fastball ranged from 87 to 90 mph, and Miller said it should benefit Chen pitching between the hard-throwing right-handers Sidney Ponson and Cabrera. Miller said he really liked how Chen needed just 77 pitches to finish his first six innings.

"I'm used to looking up and seeing 60 pitches by the third inning," Miller said. "And I think it's good because maybe these guys that are blessed with 95-mph arms can watch something like that and say, `If I can do just a little bit of that, I'd really be devastating.'"

Leaning right

When the Orioles released Karim Garcia after Wednesday's game, they trimmed from their surplus of left-handed hitters. They also sent center fielder Darnell McDonald back to Triple-A Ottawa and added the right-handed-hitting Tim Raines and Jose Leon.

Yesterday, Mazzilli put Raines and Leon in the lineup against A's left-hander Barry Zito.

"It gives you more versatility," Mazzilli said. "We were very left-handed oriented for a while."

Palmeiro's option watch

Mazzilli sat Rafael Palmeiro yesterday, with Zito on the mound. Palmeiro is batting just .184 against left-handers this year, and with Leon on the roster, the Orioles may continue to rest Palmeiro against lefties.

Palmeiro has a $4.5 million option built into his contract for next season that vests if he plays 140 games on defense. He has started 114 of the team's 126 games at first base, and entered two others as a pinch hitter, staying in the game at first base.

That means Palmeiro must play defense in 24 of the team's final 36 games to trigger the option.

Speaking in general terms about his lineup, Mazzilli said, "I want to put the team that I think is going to win on the field."

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