O's, fans no-shows as Tigers roll, 13-3

Bedard allows 8 runs in 4 2/3

smallest Yards crowd: 16,301


April 19, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The crowd was considerably smaller, the buzz over a first-place team barely audible. Yankee Weekend stirred up the emotions of a city and an organization. Last night brought frustration for both.

There might have been a little embarrassment, too.

Trying to guard against a letdown, the Orioles took a hard spill against the Detroit Tigers, allowing runs in five of the first six innings in a 13-3 loss before 16,301, the smallest crowd in Camden Yards history.

They didn't pitch, didn't hit in the clutch and didn't maintain sole possession of first place in the American League East, with the Boston Red Sox joining them at 8-5.

"We were a little flat," manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Pausing to reconsider his assessment, he said, "We were real flat."

Jay Gibbons hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the second inning that gave the Orioles a brief 2-1 lead. Center fielder Nook Logan robbed him of another one in the seventh with a leaping catch in front of the bullpen.

Brian Roberts, named the American League's Player of the Week earlier in the day, singled in the first inning to extend his hitting streak to 18 games dating to last season. He also saw a home run get taken away by Logan in the eighth.

So much for the highlights.

Left-hander Erik Bedard allowed eight runs and nine hits in 4 2/3 innings. The Tigers had consecutive RBI doubles in the fifth before reliever Rick Bauer took his place - a move that didn't soften the beating.

"I threw some good pitches and they hit it, and I threw some bad pitches and they hit it," said Bedard (0-1), who had allowed two runs over 12 innings in his first two outings. "You have some good starts and some bad starts. That's the territory of a starting pitcher."

Bauer surrendered four runs in 1 1/3 innings, raising his ERA to 13.50. John Parrish replaced him to begin the seventh with the Tigers leading 12-2, and Vance Wilson reached him for an RBI single in the eighth.

Winners of three straight, the Tigers got home runs from Omar Infante in the third and Dmitri Young in the sixth. They got hits from everyone in the starting lineup except Carlos Pena. And they got under the Orioles' skin.

"It's a game you've got to throw out and just come back tomorrow," Mazzilli said. "You go through a couple of those during the course of the year."

Former Oriole Jason Johnson (2-1) was making his 65th appearance at Camden Yards, including his 60th start - the fourth most behind Mike Mussina, Scott Erickson and Sidney Ponson. But Johnson has notched only 17 wins here.

He tossed 6 2/3 scoreless innings against the Kansas City Royals in his 2005 debut, but allowed five runs and seven hits in one-third of an inning against the Minnesota Twins in his next start.

He was steady after the second inning last night, blanking the Orioles until Franklyn German replaced him in the eighth with his pitch count at 79.

"It's good to come back," said Johnson, who signed with the Tigers before the 2004 season. "I've always liked pitching on this mound."

Four of the first seven batters reached against Johnson, but he retired 16 of the last 19 he faced. Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro hit into double plays to take some heat off him before the Tigers seized control and made the Orioles' three-game sweep of the New York Yankees seem like ancient history.

"You come off that weekend with a lot of emotion, you've got to carry it over," Mazzilli said. "There are games like that. It happens. We don't like it. We'll deal with it."

The Tigers' 13 runs exceeded the Yankees' entire weekend output. Detroit scored 17 in six games against the Orioles last season - all of them losses.

Bedard threw 54 pitches in three innings, and his first two in the fourth resulted in back-to-back singles that put runners on the corners with none out. Bedard struck out the next batter, and Pena hit a sharp grounder to Gibbons for a potential double play.

Still getting comfortable at first base, Gibbons scrambled to his feet and stepped on the bag, but he also ducked to avoid a piece of broken bat. The hesitation prevented him from throwing home or trying for the out at second, and Young scored.

Infante followed with a run-scoring single to center field, increasing the Tigers' lead to 5-2.

Once it stood at 12-2 in the eighth, Mazzilli emptied his bench. Javy Lopez made his first career appearance at first base. At least one aspect of the night was noteworthy.

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