Tejada, Roberts drive O's to another Twins rout, 12-3

Shortstop homers twice

Roberts: doubles record

September 19, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - Before the Orioles could enjoy one of their more satisfying afternoons of the season yesterday, they had to slog through some agonizing moments behind rookie pitcher Daniel Cabrera and kill a few trees.

Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Brad Radke broke about five bats the first time through the Orioles' lineup.

"You don't see that many bats broken in two innings," Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said. "I thought we were going to have to go over and borrow some of theirs."

Eventually, the Orioles found their sweet spots, as Roberts and Miguel Tejada continued their assault on the record books in a 12-3 victory at the Metrodome.

Roberts set an American League single-season record for doubles by a switch-hitter, with his 47th, and Tejada had two home runs and five RBIs.

That made it two straight blowout victories against a team that entered the series riding a nine-game winning streak, with hopes of celebrating its third consecutive American League Central title this weekend.

The Orioles defeated the Twins, 11-2, on Friday, and this one evened their season series at four games apiece. Minnesota will send Cy Young candidate Johan Santana to the mound today, hoping to avoid a sweep.

"Our young guys have gotten beat around pretty good the last two days," said Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, whose team's magic number remained at three. "We need them to be better than that."

Radke (11-8) kept sending the Orioles' hitters back to the dugout for new lumber, but they still built a 3-0 lead by the third inning, as Jay Gibbons had an RBI single, Roberts hit his fourth home run, and Tejada hit an RBI double.

Cabrera (12-7) needed 26 pitches to get through the first inning, and when speedy infielder Augie Ojeda hit a chopper to first baseman Rafael Palmeiro in the second, Cabrera was late covering the bag.

Those are the kinds of lapses Orioles pitching coach Ray Miller has been harping on his students to avoid, and Cabrera chalked it up to another lesson. He kept the Twins scoreless until Corey Koskie hit a two-run homer in the fourth inning, reducing the lead to 3-2.

"That guy hit a good pitch," Cabrera said of Koskie, who returned to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 27 and hit his 23rd homer. "That can happen. That guy's a good hitter."

It was a moment of truth for Cabrera, who had failed to make it out of the fourth inning in four of his previous six starts. Instead of folding, Cabrera retired the final eight batters in what turned into the critical stretch of the game.

Overall, Cabrera allowed just three hits in six innings, marking the 10th time in 25 starts he has pitched at least six innings and allowed four or fewer hits.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said he wasn't close to removing Cabrera after Koskie's home run, which came on his 75th pitch, but added, "I think that next inning was big for him, when he got out of it 1-2-3."

The Orioles started pulling away in the fifth inning, but Twins left fielder Michael Restovich tried making it as difficult as possible. He made a spectacular diving catch with the bases loaded to steal extra bases from Gibbons in the fifth - Palmeiro scored on the sacrifice fly - and leaped to rob Javy Lopez of a home run in the seventh.

Lopez, who had 43 home runs last year, has been stuck on 19 since Aug. 20.

But before long, the Orioles started feasting on the bottom barrel of the Twins' bullpen. Gearing up for the postseason, Gardenhire is trying to save some wear and tear on his top pitchers, so Radke was gone after three innings and 79 pitches, and relievers Joe Roa and Joe Beimel were sent to the wolves, each giving up four runs apiece.

Tejada made it 5-2 in the sixth inning with a home run off Roa, and the Orioles erupted for seven runs in the eighth, as Roberts hit his record-setting double, and Tejada added a three-run homer.

It marked the fourth time since the All-Star break that Tejada has had five RBIs in the same game. He is batting .306 with 29 home runs and leads the AL with 131 RBIs.

"He's been doing it all year," Mazzilli said.

Tejada needs just 11 more RBIs to match Palmeiro's franchise record of 142, set in 1996. But Tejada said the only number he's shooting for is .300.

He came into the season as a .270 career hitter, and the only time he's finished above .300 was his MVP season of 2002, when he hit .308 for Oakland.

"That's the one I want most right now," he said.

Orioles today

Opponent: Minnesota Twins

Site: Metrodome, Minneapolis

Time: 2:10 p.m.

TV/Radio: Chs. 54, 20/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Bruce Chen (1-0, 1.73) vs. Twins' Johan Santana (18-6, 2.76)

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