Orioles leave New York with series win, 7-2 smile

R. Lopez handles Yanks to seal series after O's lost 14 of 19 to them in 2004

April 11, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK - One pitcher was hit by a line drive and stayed in the game. The other starter took a shot to the head and left the premises.

It wasn't enough for the Orioles to be good yesterday. They also had to be lucky.

How often does that combination play out at Yankee Stadium? Taking full advantage of his latest opportunity in the rotation, Rodrigo Lopez plowed through New York's lineup for eight innings, and Brian Roberts continued his unlikely home run binge in a 7-2 victory over the Yankees before 46,797.

The Orioles (3-3) won the series after going 5-14 against the Yankees last season. If not for one bad inning Saturday, they would have swept New York in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium for the first time since 1986.

"This is my fifth year here, and winning two of three in New York has been a rarity," Jay Gibbons said. "Winning a series is always big. It seems a little bigger against New York."

Roberts has three homers this season as the Orioles' leadoff hitter, two short of his career high. His bases-empty shot in the sixth off reliever Paul Quantrill gave the Orioles a 7-1 lead.

"He's just a good player," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "The things he does on the field are what you look for out of a prototypical second baseman. He runs, steals, plays second base well, and he has occasional pop. I don't want him to hit home runs, but he has and he's done well."

Roberts also had a single off Carl Pavano, the pitcher who spurned the Orioles last winter and signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Yankees.

Pavano avoided serious injury in the third inning, but not Melvin Mora's line drive, which struck him on the right side of the head. He never lost consciousness and was taken to a local hospital for precautionary tests.

By comparison, Lopez (2-0) had to feel lucky, if not also a little sore. He was nailed on the hip by Hideki Matsui's shot in the second inning, but still got the out and continued to pitch, holding the Yankees without a hit until the fifth.

"It just felt like it was burning," he said. "For a minute, it felt really hot. But when I started to pitch again, it went away."

The ball caught Lopez on the meaty part of the hip, missing his rib cage.

"You're always concerned at first when somebody gets hit," Mazzilli said. "It's scary. The same thing with Pavano. You don't want to see something like that happen."

Given the Opening Day start as a reward for leading the team in wins last season and twice accepting assignments to the bullpen, Lopez has surrendered only one run in 14 innings this season.

"He knows how to pitch," Mazzilli said. "He has an idea exactly what he wants to do."

Mazzilli had his own ideas yesterday. He approached Lopez before the game and said, "I need you today."

The bullpen was stretched thin, and he wanted innings from Lopez. Quality ones would be a bonus.

"I was excited to do my job," Lopez said. "He gave me the chance to be the Opening Day starter and I'm trying to do my best, trying to make him feel proud."

The Orioles could have been flat after blowing a 5-1 lead Saturday, but they scored three runs off Pavano and three more off reliever Tanyon Sturtze in 4 1/3 innings. Two of the runs off Pavano were unearned after first baseman Jason Giambi dropped a foul pop in the third.

"[Saturday's] game was a bitter pill to swallow," Mazzilli said. "Coming back, it would have been very easy to be a little subdued, but they bounced back with 14 hits and played hard. That shows me something."

Pavano walked off the field in the third inning, but nobody was questioning his toughness.

Mora's line drive crashed into Pavano, who didn't have time to cover up. Mora reached on an infield hit, ending an 0-for-19 slump, as Pavano held a hand against his ear. He never went down.

A team physician examined Pavano before he went to the hospital. The pitcher was alert, according to a Yankees spokesman.

"I found out that he was fine," Mazzilli said. "That's good to know."

Manager Joe Torre rushed Sturtze into the game, and Miguel Tejada greeted him with a run-scoring single. Tejada was 9-for-15 lifetime against Sturtze.

Javy Lopez smashed a two-out, two-run double down the left-field line, giving the Orioles a 4-0 lead. They scored twice in the fifth on a single by Rafael Palmeiro, who had three hits, and Gibbons' sacrifice fly off Sturtze's replacement, Quantrill.

Yankees catcher Jorge Posada might have cost the Yankees a chance to get back into the game in the fifth.

He followed Giambi's single with a drive off the right-center-field fence but ended up with a single because he didn't run hard out of the batter's box. With second base open, Bubba Crosby grounded into a double play.

The Yankees had four hits in the inning but scored just once.

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