O's solve Wells, stifle Red Sox, 8-4

Surhoff, Roberts spark team's 4th win in a row

April 26, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - By the time their fourth batter stepped to the plate last night, the Orioles already had accomplished something they couldn't do against the Boston Red Sox in two games last week.

They scored a run. Three innings later, they had six on the board and Red Sox starter David Wells was headed to the showers. The Orioles' hot bats and the pitcher's sprained right foot were to blame.

Kept in check by the veteran left-hander Wednesday, B.J. Surhoff touched him for a two-run, fourth-inning homer and Brian Roberts had three hits and two RBIs to lead the offense. Bruce Chen gave his team another solid outing, and the Orioles beat the Red Sox, 8-4, before 35,003 at Fenway Park for their fourth straight win.

By taking the first game of a three-game series, the Orioles (13-7), in first place at this point of the season for the first time since 1997, moved two games ahead of the World Series champions in the American League East.

And Chen, who counts Boston as one stop on his eight-team major league tour, caught manager Lee Mazzilli's eye once again.

"In this ballpark, against this club, when you don't have your best stuff, to go in and go deep into the game, that's impressive to me," Mazzilli said.

Chen (2-1) gave up three runs in six innings, allowing nine hits and three walks but never folding against the Red Sox's vaunted offense. He left the game with runners on first and second and no outs in the seventh inning.

Reliever Todd Williams, who has surrendered just three hits and no earned runs in 10 2/3 innings this season, got out of the jam, and closer B.J. Ryan worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation.

"When I had to go to a pitch, I went to my curveball," said Chen, who has made four starts - two each against the Red Sox and New York Yankees. "My changeup wasn't working well and my fastball was up. I had real good command of [the curveball] tonight. If it keeps working, stay with it."

Shut out in two games against the Red Sox (11-9) last week and held to just three hits by Wells through eight innings on Wednesday, the Orioles last night stole four bases and collected 13 hits, including eight off Wells (2-3).

Every starter except Geronimo Gil had a hit, but the Orioles' catcher did drive in a run. Roberts, suddenly scorching again, was 3-for-5 with a run, two RBIs and two steals, and designated hitter Javy Lopez had two hits, extending his hitting streak to eight games, and reached base four times.

Center fielder Luis Matos was 2-for-3 with two runs and two steals

"I think the guys were a little more patient today than last week," said Mazzilli, who used a lineup that included all right-handed batters except for Surhoff. "And they were aggressive on the bases."

Mazzilli credited Roberts for setting the tone. He jumped on Wells' first pitch and lined it up the middle for a single, then stole second on Wells' next pitch.

Melvin Mora struck out by fouling off a bunt attempt for the third strike, then Roberts swiped third base - his ninth steal of the season.

Roberts came home on Miguel Tejada's groundout to shortstop Edgar Renteria, breaking Wells' scoreless-inning streak at 15 and giving Tejada his major league-high 23rd RBI.

"We don't talk about, `Hey, let's go hack at the first pitch you see,' " Roberts said. "Every guy has his own approach. At that point, I figured, `Well, I just saw him a week ago, so I know what he's got. If you get a pitch to hit, go ahead and swing.' "

The Red Sox got first-inning RBI singles from Renteria and Kevin Millar, then the Orioles tacked on two more in the second before Roberts hit into an inning-ending double play.

But Wells wasn't off the hook by any means. He barely got off the mound to field Lopez's infield single to start the fourth, circling the mound after the hit, clearly feeling discomfort in his right leg. Red Sox manager Terry Francona, pitching coach Dave Wallace and assistant trainer Chris Correnti came out to look at Wells, who threw two warm-up pitches and opted to stay in the game.

"He wanted to walk it off for a minute and let it calm down," said Francona, who said Wells was taken to Beth Israel Hospital for tests after the game.

Wells probably wished he hadn't stayed in. He was ahead 0-2 on Surhoff, the next batter, but the veteran pulled an 88-mph fastball into the right-field seats, near where a fan made contact with Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield earlier this month. Surhoff's first homer of the season gave the Orioles a 5-2 lead.

"Boomer and I have been going against each other since 1987," said Surhoff, who was in the lineup because he was a lifetime .339 hitter against Wells and added two hits last night. "There's pretty much no secrets. He just left a couple of balls up in the zone."

Roberts added an RBI single later that inning, prompting Francona to yank Wells after 3 2/3 innings and 69 pitches. Wells gave up six earned runs and eight hits before ambling gingerly to the dugout.

Jason Varitek hit a bases-empty homer in the sixth, but Boston's momentum essentially died when Williams relieved Chen and induced Renteria to ground into a double play. Williams then got the red-hot Manny Ramirez to ground out.

"That," Mazzilli said, "was a huge inning."

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