O's Kline records out, win vs. Rays

Pitcher redeems himself after remarks in 5-1 victory

Baseball

April 14, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Orioles reliever Steve Kline faced one batter last night, recorded the out and didn't make anyone angry. He was suitable for print, without the inflammatory remarks. That in itself was a victory, shortly before he earned an official one.

At the center of a small controversy earlier in the day, Kline got the last laugh, and his first favorable decision with the Orioles, when Brian Roberts singled in the seventh inning to break a tie and spark a 5-1 win over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Still the surprise team leader in home runs, Roberts reverted to form, scoring Chris Gomez for a 2-1 lead. Gomez and Geronimo Gil, reserves who were given starts against left-hander Mark Hendrickson, singled with one out before Roberts delivered.

"The kid's been pretty spectacular so far," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Miguel Tejada added a two-run double, and he scored on Sammy Sosa's single, as the Orioles (5-3) moved two games above .500 for the first time this season.

Javy Lopez hit his first home run, pulling a 3-1 pitch from Hendrickson into the left-field seats to tie the game in the sixth.

The day began with Kline (1-1) doing a little damage control inside the visitors' clubhouse, a meeting held at his request to explain comments he made in a St. Louis newspaper about regretting his decision to sign with the Orioles.

Bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks hugged Kline and said, "Daddy still loves you." A teammate, also finding the whole situation amusing, said, "Unlike Kline, I'm happy here. Cut me, and I bleed orange."

Kline, who received unwanted attention last year for flipping off Cardinals manager Tony La Russa in the bullpen, joked that his new haircut was intended to avoid being recognized for his own safety.

Reliever John Parrish went a step further by shaving his entire head, providing a far greater distraction than Kline's printed remarks.

"I just wanted to change things up and get some laughs," he said. "I've gotten more `You need a little sun up there' than I have compliments."

So much for a team being torn apart by controversy.

Kline bailed out Steve Reed in the sixth, striking out Aubrey Huff with runners on the corners and two outs. He got ahead 0-2, ran the count full and threw a slider past Huff.

"I figured, if I screw up right now, they may as well shoot me," Kline said.

Said Mazzilli: "That's what he's supposed to do, go out and do the job. And he did it in a tough situation. I didn't expect anything less from him."

Players waited in front of the dugout to congratulate Kline.

"You can see how good we can be, and I feel guilty for two of the three losses we have," Kline said. "My team picked me up big-time. They showed me a lot of love. I'm happy about that.

"We had a good talk today. They told me, `Don't worry about it, big boy. Just go out and throw your game and bring us home some victories.'"

Sosa had his own distractions, though none that he couldn't handle. A small group of fans in right field unfurled a banner that read: "Cork that syringe," an attempt at humor tied to his suspension in 2003 for using a doctored bat, and the steroid allegations in Jose Canseco's tell-all book.

Meanwhile, left-hander Erik Bedard was busy throwing 102 pitches in five innings, three fewer than his first outing, when he lasted through the seventh. On both occasions, he left with the game tied 1-1.

"I didn't have the control I usually do," said Bedard, who was primarily responsible for Tampa Bay stranding 14 runners. "I couldn't stay back, and I don't know the reason."

Six of the first eight batters reached against Bedard, who needed a double play in the first inning to avoid falling behind.

Bedard walked Eduardo Perez to open the second. Alex Gonzalez lined a single to right and Toby Hall looped one into center field, loading the bases with none out.

Unable to tie Tuesday night's game in the ninth inning after putting runners on the corners with none out, the Devil Rays sputtered again when Joey Gathright bounced into a force at home, Carl Crawford flied to shallow left and Julio Lugo grounded to third.

Facing their fourth left-handed starter in eight games, the Orioles broke out the same lineup used against New York Yankees' Randy Johnson on Saturday. One player referred to it as the "Big Unit lineup," with Gil catching, Lopez serving as the designated hitter and Gomez playing first base. Rafael Palmeiro, Jay Gibbons and Larry Bigbie, a combined 5-for-43 against Henderickson, were benched.

Hendrickson has more wins (four) against the Orioles than any other team.

"For whatever reason," Mazzilli said, "this kid has given us trouble."

Kline caused a little of his own yesterday. He asked for forgiveness, then made sure he received it.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site, time: Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Fla., 7:15

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (1-0, 6.35) vs. Devil Rays' Rob Bell (0-0, 3.00)

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