Orioles bust out in a big way, 13-5

After two shutouts, bats come alive in Toronto with 17 hits, 4 home runs

April 23, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - It was just two games, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli warned before last night's series opener with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles bats, rendered powerless in two consecutive shutout losses to Boston, would awaken soon.

It is simply, as many players also believed, a matter of time.

Those messages reverberated throughout a half-empty Rogers Centre in the eighth and ninth innings last night as the Orioles pounded the Blue Jays' bullpen into submission, scoring nine runs in the last two innings to rock Toronto, 13-5, in front of 18,095.

Doing a little bit of everything, from the long ball to broken-bat hits to capitalizing on Blue Jays miscues, the Orioles (10-7) turned a 5-4 eighth-inning deficit into a comfortable ninth inning, moving into a tie with the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East

"We were bound to break out," said Jay Gibbons, who went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs, doubling his season total.

The Orioles, whose scoreless drought reached 22 innings when Melvin Mora was cut down at the plate in a scoreless first, pounded out 17 hits. Every Oriole starter had at least two hits, except Brian Roberts and Luis Matos, but even those two had RBIs.

Miguel Tejada, Mora, Javy Lopez and Gibbons each hit long home runs, while Lopez and Gibbons, who hit back-to-back in the Orioles order, combined to go 6-for-9 with six runs, two homers and seven RBIs.

"It was good to see the offense back," Mazzilli said. "This team is capable of doing that. They gave us a little and we took a lot."

On a night where the Orioles' offense will grab the headlines, reliever Todd Williams picked up his second win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief that stabilized the Orioles when starter Daniel Cabrera lost touch with the strike zone and seemingly his concentration.

The Orioles starter mixed brilliance (career high seven strikeouts) with wildness (tied career high with six walks).

At one point, he barely gave base runner Eric Hinske a second look and the Blue Jays' first baseman stole second and third on consecutive pitches.

"It's the little things that just need to be toned right now," Mazzilli said of Cabrera, who went 5 1/3 innings, allowing five hits and five earned runs. "Walks kill you. You need to stay away from them. I think he lost his concentration a little."

Added Cabrera: "I felt really good, but the ball moved, maybe too much tonight."

Williams got the Orioles out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by striking out one of the Blue Jays' hottest hitters, Shea Hillenbrand, after Toronto had taken a 5-4 lead thanks in large part to four walks, three by Cabrera, one by Steve Kline.

The Blue Jays sent seven hitters to the plate without getting a hit.

"I've never been on a team that says `keep it close and we can come back,'" said Williams, who has surrendered just one hit and no runs in 8 2/3 innings. "That's never been more true than on this team."

The Orioles' rally started in the eighth. Starter Josh Towers had gone the first six, giving up four runs, three on long fourth-inning home runs by Tejada and Lopez. After Jason Frasor pitched a scoreless seventh, Justin Speier (0-1) came on for the eighth.

Mora tagged Speier's first pitch for his third home run, and later tacked on a sacrifice fly in the inning, where the Orioles sent 11 players to the plate, and benefited from some good fortune.

A throwing error on Blue Jays shortstop Russ Adams opened the floodgates for the Orioles, who got RBI singles from Gibbons, Matos and Bigbie in that inning, to go along with an RBI walk from Roberts with the bases loaded.

On two of those singles, the Orioles broke their bats.

"I'll take the cheap ones for sure," said Gibbons, who then connected with a hardly cheap, three-run, 367-foot shot in the ninth inning, his second homer of the season.

There was a scary moment in that inning, too. Hustling to first on the play where Adams was assessed the throwing error, Tejada extended awkwardly trying to beat the throw and tumbled to the ground. Mazzilli and head trainer Richie Bancells leaped out of the dugout almost the second the star shortstop fell.

"Everybody stopped breathing for a second there," said Gibbons. "He is our leader."

Tejada, who admitted he was scared at first, got up pretty quickly and later said he was OK. As it turns out, so is the Orioles' offense after a two-game hiatus.

"It's a long season and you are going to expect to get shut out," Tejada said. "But we know we can hit."

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