O's batter Yanks, 12-5

Led by Roberts, offense awakens with 18 hits

Ponson gets victory

April 09, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - Confident that their lineup would stack up against anyone's this year, the Orioles scored once in their last 22 innings before arriving in the Bronx. A team can be confronted with a multitude of issues over the course of a season. Offense wasn't supposed to be one of them.

That point was driven home last night - about as often as their runners arrived at it.

The Orioles broke out against New York Yankees right-hander Jaret Wright, scoring more runs against him in five innings than their combined total for the first three games, and Brian Roberts homered for the second time in two nights in a 12-5 victory at Yankee Stadium.

Sidney Ponson labored through 5 2/3 innings, throwing 110 pitches, but he left with a 10-4 lead. Gary Sheffield hit a two-run homer in the fifth before the Orioles scored four times in the sixth against the Yankees' bullpen to re-establish control.

Perfection, or anything close to it, wasn't a requirement from Ponson last night. Not with the Orioles (2-2) collecting 18 hits and venting from top to bottom.

Roberts, in his customary spot atop the order, drove in four runs and came within a double of the cycle. No. 9 hitter Luis Matos had a single, double, triple and two RBIs.

"In this lineup, I'm going to get pitches to hit," Roberts said, "and I have to take advantage of them."

Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez combined for five hits and four RBIs. Rafael Palmeiro had two hits and his first RBI. Jay Gibbons and Larry Bigbie also had two hits.

It didn't matter who Yankees manager Joe Torre brought into the game. The beating was the same.

"We know we're going to hit," Tejada said. "It doesn't matter how we do in the last city."

The Orioles fell silent after the fourth inning of Opening Day, and were shut out in the second game. The team was batting .152, with six of the regulars scrambling to get their averages above .200.

"You would not think that would be [a problem] coming out of spring training, but that's the least of your worries, the offense," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "We have too many good hitters. It might just be one game that makes it click. And we were in two of the first three games without anyone really hitting."

Before last night, Melvin Mora was 1-for-12, Lopez and Palmeiro were 1-for-10 and Gibbons was 1-for-9. Tejada was 2-for-9.

Only Mora, who went 0-for-5, continues to slump.

"You have one or two guys who aren't hitting, then you have one guy who wants to do everything," Mazzilli said. "You just have to stay within your game plan. Just do what you do best.

"The object is to get on base. You get on base for the next guy, he gets on base for the next guy, and you've got guys who can knock them in. You do more damage when guys are on base. But sometimes you get impatient when you're not scoring."

Wright retired the first six batters before Gibbons opened the third inning with a double. Gibbons scored the tying run with one out when Matos grounded a single down the left-field line, the ball staying inches inside the bag.

Roberts followed with a drive to right that hit the foul pole, giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead.

"Going into the season, I decided to get my two out of the way early," Roberts said.

The Orioles collected four hits in the fourth inning, but only one run scored, on a two-out double by Bigbie. Palmeiro grounded into a double play after Sammy Sosa's leadoff single.

Wright was making his Yankees debut after signing a three-year, $21 million contract over the winter. Reminded how much his life has changed beyond the money, he was booed on his way to the dugout after Torre took the ball with none out in the fifth. Wright was charged with six runs.

Ponson didn't look like the pitcher who threw two complete games at Yankee Stadium last season, including a shutout win. He allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 2/3 innings, but it was good enough.

"I'm not really happy with what I did tonight," he said. "I didn't do my job at all. I did a lot of stupid mistakes."

Undone by their failure to record an out on a bunt in Thursday's loss to Oakland, the Orioles let down Ponson in the first inning last night.

Ponson was charged with a wild pitch on a ball in the dirt that Lopez attempted to backhand, allowing Derek Jeter to advance to second with one out. Jeter moved to third on a Tejada error, and he scored on Hideki Matsui's long fly ball to right.

A troubled winter and spring that included two arrests contributed to Ponson's demotion to fourth in the rotation. As it turned out, last night's slot was ideal for any pitcher.

Orioles today

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site: Yankee Stadium

Time: 1:05 p.m.

TV: Ch. 54

Radio: 1090 AM

Starters: Orioles' Bruce Chen (2-1, 3.02 in 2004) vs. Yankees' Randy Johnson (1-0, 1.50 in 2005)

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