O's overpower Yankees

Tejada, Sosa spark 7-run 6th to back 4-hit gem by Chen

Orioles improve to 3-1 vs. New York

April 16, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

First it was Miguel Tejada taking one big swing, then Sammy Sosa, two sledgehammers crashing into a game built on pitching. The impact produced an unexpected makeover. Only the Orioles were satisfied with its look.

Tejada and Sosa hit back-to-back homers in the sixth inning last night and contributed five RBIs to a seven-run outburst, and left-hander Bruce Chen went the distance to defeat the New York Yankees, 8-1, before a sellout crowd of 48,061 at Camden Yards.

Twelve batters came to the plate for the Orioles (6-4), who began the inning tied 1-1. Luis Matos and Brian Roberts had run-scoring singles, Tejada walked with the bases loaded and Sosa added a two-run double.

"This team can drop three or four [runs] in the blink of an eye," manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It was nice to open it up."

The Orioles took two of three at Yankee Stadium last weekend and might have swept New York if not for a seventh-inning meltdown Saturday that cost Chen the decision. After going 5-14 against their division rivals last season, they seem braver, more resilient, better equipped to ignore past failures.

"This is a confident team," Mazzilli said. "It believes that it can do a lot of things."

It starts with Roberts, the catalyst who extended his hitting streak to 15 games, dating to last season, with a third-inning triple.

Tejada also drove in a run in the first inning with a triple that scored Melvin Mora. Tejada has recorded an RBI in seven consecutive games.

"Nobody is trying to win the game by himself," Tejada said. "We're happy right now. Everybody is excited to be here."

Sosa delivered his first home run at Camden Yards, and it included his standard hop out of the batter's box as the crowd roared. Of the ballparks currently in use, he still must conquer Washington's RFK Stadium, Cleveland's Jacobs Field and Texas' Ameriquest Field.

Batting again in the same inning, Sosa hit a ground-rule double with the bases loaded to complete the scoring.

"What I like about this team is every day there's a new hero," he said. "We feel comfortable about it. We know we're going to hit. But tomorrow it's going to be somebody else."

Yankees starter Carl Pavano retired nine in a row and showed no signs of bending until Tejada and Sosa applied pressure. Four of the seven runs off him were unearned because of second baseman Rey Sanchez's error after Sosa's blast.

The Yankees' lineup included right fielder Gary Sheffield, who had an altercation with a fan at Fenway Park during Thursday night's game against the Boston Red Sox. He could be suspended by Major League Baseball, though the club doesn't anticipate any punishments.

"I saw the replay and I think he had a lot of self control," Mazzilli said. "Sometimes you are in the heat of competition and you get into a situation like that and you don't know how you are going to react. I thought he handled it well."

Sheffield went 1-for-4 with a single, the fourth and last hit off Chen. He didn't get doused with beer or take a swing at anyone in the first row of seats. His focus stayed on baseball.

It needed to be there if the Yankees had any chance against Chen, who retired 11 in a row before Hideki Matsui singled with two outs in the seventh.

"We haven't been swinging the bats well, but Chen did a good job," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "He teases the strike zone. He wasn't walking anybody, but he was throwing pitches so close to the zone that you thought you could hit them."

Named the fifth starter toward the end of spring training, Chen twice has been subjected to the Yankees' vaunted lineup. He allowed two earned runs over six innings in his first outing in the Bronx and left with a 5-3 lead that the bullpen didn't protect.

Chen set down the first seven batters last night, his changeup never better, before Tino Martinez walked and Sanchez reached on an infield hit. Bernie Williams lined a single into center field with two outs to score Martinez with the tying run, but Matos threw out Sanchez at third base.

A play at first base the next inning could have forced Chen from the game. He covered the bag on a grounder to Roberts and took a hard spill while recording the out. Matsui stepped on Chen's right index finger, which might require a tetanus shot.

Chen wore a bandage on the finger. He continued to keep the Yankees under wraps.

"Bruce Chen did a Jamie Moyer tonight," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He certainly had a plan and he did a heck of a job. Anybody who can change up speeds and throw strikes is going to have some success."

Pavano was making his first start since being hit by Mora's line drive and suffering a mild concussion. Another headache came last night. First from one swing, then another.

Orioles today

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site, time: Camden Yards, 4:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Yankees' Mike Mussina (0-1, 4.91) vs. Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (2-0, 0.64)

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