Wells, Red Sox reign, 8-0

Champs hit Chen's 1 mistake, cruise by O's behind Wells

Varitek drives 3-run homer in 6th

Roberts' hit, O's HR streaks end as hosts held to 3 hits

Baseball

April 21, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The bat flew out of catcher Geronimo Gil's hands as he swung through a David Wells pitch last night, the lumber rolling farther than most balls hit by the Orioles. Gil retreated to the dugout after striking out. The Orioles had no place to hide.

Wells allowed four base runners in eight innings, catcher Jason Varitek hit a three-run homer in the sixth to break open a tight game, and the Boston Red Sox moved back into a tie with the Orioles for first place in the American League East with an 8-0 victory before 36,478 at Camden Yards.

The Orioles (9-6) held a lead in their previous 11 games, but they never got ahead of the Red Sox, who scored the game's first run in the fifth inning. They also failed to homer for the first time in 10 games, coming close once when Miguel Tejada's fly ball to right hooked foul in the sixth.

"Once [Wells] gets on a roll, you try to break his rhythm a little bit, but we really never got to that point," manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Bruce Chen didn't allow a hit until Varitek reached on an infield single to open the fifth inning. Before long, Varitek was trotting home with the game's first run when Chen committed a balk with two outs and the bases loaded.

He moved at a similar pace in the sixth after depositing a changeup into the Orioles' bullpen to give Boston a 4-0 lead.

Chen (1-1) departed in the seventh inning after Johnny Damon doubled into the right-field corner with one out. He was charged with a fifth run when Manny Ramirez singled off reliever Steve Reed.

"He made one mistake," Mazzilli said. "He got the ball up on Varitek."

Reed was charged with three runs, raising his ERA to 13.50. "We've got to get him going," Mazzilli said.

Since joining the Orioles on Aug. 25, Chen was 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA that ranked second among American League pitchers behind Minnesota's Cy Young winner, Johan Santana.

Chen recorded the Orioles' first complete game in his last start, holding the New York Yankees to one run and four hits. His other appearance also came against the Yankees, when he left after six innings with a 5-3 lead that the bullpen couldn't hold.

The Red Sox had two base runners through four innings, both times when Ramirez walked. In the fourth, Chen struck out David Ortiz on a changeup and used the same pitch to induce a fly ball from Kevin Millar.

Edgar Renteria almost led off the inning with an extra-base hit, but third baseman Melvin Mora made a lunging backhanded stop near the line and threw him out.

Mora couldn't save Chen in the fifth, and the left-hander got into his first jam when Jay Payton followed with a broken-bat single. Varitek was running on the pitch and went to third.

Preoccupied with Payton at first base, Chen ran the count full to Bill Mueller before retiring him on a pop-up - again relying on his changeup. Mark Bellhorn struck out looking at a slider, but Damon walked to load the bases.

Though Chen was working on a two-hit shutout, his pitch count had risen to 86. He threw one more, for a strike, before plate umpire Gary Cederstrom signaled a balk when Chen's shoulder twitched.

Knowing he had no argument, Chen slammed the rosin bag on the mound, gathered his emotions and retired Renteria.

"I made a mistake," he said, "and I paid for it."

Varitek's homer came after a leadoff double by Ramirez and a pitch that nailed Millar.

"If I could take it back, I'd take it back," Chen said. "As soon as it left my hand, I knew it was up. I was hoping he wouldn't swing."

Signed to a two-year contract last winter, Wells would have been matching Chen's no-hit bid if not for Sammy Sosa's single leading off the second.

"It was one of those days that, from the bullpen to the eighth inning, I was making my pitches," he said. "Every one of them."

The veteran left-hander faced the minimum number of batters through four innings because Javy Lopez grounded into a double play to end the second. Lopez singled with two outs in the fifth, and Luis Matos singled leading off the sixth.

"We ran into a buzzsaw with him tonight," Mazzilli said.

Brian Roberts' hitting streak ended at 19 games, but he wasn't the only Oriole scuffling against Wells (2-2). Rafael Palmeiro was 13-for-70 lifetime against Wells, but Mazzilli kept him in the lineup and sat Jay Gibbons, a .263 career hitter in 19 at-bats.

Mazzilli was hoping that Palmeiro could build on Tuesday's game, which included his first home run, but he went 0-for-3 to lower his average to .196.

"I'd like to get him going," Mazzilli said. "You come off a game like that, you feel good."

Whatever the Orioles were feeling last night, it wasn't good.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site, time: Camden Yards, 7:05

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

Starters: Red Sox's Matt Clement (1-0, 3.12) vs. Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (2-0, 2.66)

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