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

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

Baseball

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

BOSTON - It took one pitch for the Orioles to prove that last night was going to be different.

Brian Roberts lined David Wells" first offering back up the middle. Two batters later, the Orioles had a run and a lead, both so elusive last week against Wells and the Boston Red Sox. Three innings later, Wells was heading to the dugout, with the Orioles" hot bats and a sprained foot to blame.

B.J. Surhoff hit a two-run homer, Roberts had three hits and two RBIs and resurgent left-hander Bruce Chen gave his team another solid outing, beating the Red Sox, 8-4, before 35,003 at Fenway Park for the Orioles" 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.

"When you get Roberts to lead off the game and create havoc the way he did, you get a little momentum." Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. "The guys were more patient [facing Wells] and they were aggressive on the bases."

Chen ( 2-1) pitched six innings of three-run ball, leaving in the seventh with runners on first and second and no outs. Reliever Todd Williams, who hasn't given up an earned run this season, got out of the jam and got the ball to closer B.J. Ryan, who pitched a scoreless ninth.

Mazzilli gave Chen high marks. "In this ballpark, against that club, when you don't have your best stuff and you get deep into the game, that's impressive to me." the manager said.

Shut out in two games against the Red Sox ( 11-9) last week at Camden Yards, the Orioles stayed true to their vow to be more aggressive this time, stealing four bases and collecting 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 was 3-for-5 with one run, two RBIs and two steals, and designated hitter Javy Lopez had two hits and reached base four times.

The Orioles couldn't touch Wells on Wednesday. He struck out five and limited the Orioles to three hits and one walk in eight innings, leading the Red Sox to an 8-0 victory.

But things were different last night and that was apparent early. Roberts, who has been the Orioles" catalyst all season, jumped on Wells" first pitch and lined it up the middle for a single. He stole second on Wells" next pitch. Melvin Mora fouled off a bunt attempt on the third strike, then Roberts swiped third base - his ninth steal of the season.

He then came home on Miguel Tejada's groundout to shortstop Edgar Renteria, breaking Wells" scoreless inning streak at 15 and giving Tejada his major league-leading 23rd RBs. It was also the first time Boston had allowed a first-inning run this season.

Wells got out of the first by striking out Sammy Sosa, and the Red Sox's Renteria and Kevin Millar had first-inning RBI singles off Chen to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

But the Orioles tacked on two runs in the second inning, taking the lead for good.

Luis Matos drilled a double off the Green Monster to score Lopez, who led off the inning with a walk. Gil, given his second straight start at catcher, drove in Surhoff by shooting a ball to the right side that Red Sox first baseman David Ortiz bobbled for an error. Wells got out of the inning by getting Roberts to hit into a 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. Wells then circled the mound, clearly feeling some 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 stayed in the game.

He probably wished he hadn't. He went ahead 0-2 on the next batter, Surhoff, who then pulled an 88-mph fastball into the right-field seats, right around where the fan made contact with Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield in a game earlier this month. That gave the Orioles a 5-2 lead.

It was the first home run of the season for Surhoff, who got the start largely because he entered the game as a .339 career hitter against Wells.

Roberts added an RBI single later that inning, forcing Francona to replace Wells with Blaine Neal.

The Red Sox said Wells, who went just 3M-. innings and threw 69 pitches, had suffered a sprained right foot. He gave up six earned runs and allowed eight hits, before walking gingerly to the dugout.

Chen, who also opposed Wells on Wednesday and got the loss, was often in trouble last night, but he held the Red Sox to two runs through five innings before allowing a towering, bases- empty homer by Jason Varitek in the sixth.

Chen left after allowing the first two men to reach base in the seventh inning and with the Orioles nursing a 7-3 lead. Williams entered and got Renteria to ground into a double play and then induced the red-hot Manny Ramirez to ground to shortstop.

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