Four-run 8th caps O's rally over Sox, 11-8

HRs by Tejada, J. Lopez lift first-place Orioles to fifth straight victory

`The energy ... is unbelievable'

Down 5, O's come back behind 20-hit attack, scoreless relief effort

Baseball

April 27, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - They have downplayed each win, reminding everyone who would listen that it is still April. But game by game, the Orioles do something else that gets people to take notice, that suggests this season could be a little different.

All the Orioles did last night was fight back from five runs down against the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, and after the Orioles' ace failed to get out of the fourth inning.

Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez both hit two-run homers in the eighth inning off Boston closer Keith Foulke and the Orioles outslugged the Red Sox, 11-8, before 35,670, the largest regular-season crowd at Fenway Park since 1990.

Their fifth straight win - second straight against the Red Sox (11-10) - put the Orioles (14-7) three games up in the American League East. They haven't enjoyed a lead like that at any point in a season since Sept. 25, 1997.

The Orioles, who improved their record against the New York Yankees and the Red Sox to 7-3 this season, will go for a sweep of Boston and a 6-0 road trip this afternoon behind Daniel Cabrera.

"At times, they are relentless," manager Lee Mazzilli said of his Orioles. "They come back. You've got to put the nail in the coffin against these guys. It's great to come back in this ballpark. From top to bottom, everyone did something. Guys just chipped away."

Tejada hammered an 0-2 changeup from Foulke (1-3) over the Green Monster in left field to give the Orioles a 9-8 advantage. Then after Rafael Palmeiro singled, Lopez hit his third home run of the season, also to left field, for a three-run lead.

B.J. Ryan came on to pitch a scoreless ninth for his third save.

The Orioles' bullpen pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings after the Red Sox knocked out Rodrigo Lopez in the fourth inning. Jorge Julio (1-0) pitched the seventh and eighth innings and got the win.

"That was the biggest win the whole year, to come back against those guys," said Tejada, who had four of the Orioles' season-high 20 hits in a game that lasted 4 hours, 3 minutes. "The energy on this team right now is unbelievable. If we keep playing like this, we are going to win a lot of games."

Added Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon: "We stopped hitting and they didn't. They're playing with a lot of confidence right now, and they're on a roll."

Melvin Mora added four hits, Palmeiro had three and an RBI, and Sammy Sosa and Larry Bigbie each had two hits and two RBIs. The Orioles have scored 43 runs and are hitting .360 in five games on this road trip.

The offensive surge stunned the Fenway crowd, which had watched the home team crush nemesis Rodrigo Lopez for seven hits and eight earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Manny Ramirez's three-run shot in the fourth, his seventh of the season, gave Boston an 8-3 lead.

"He just wasn't in sync tonight," Mazzilli said of Lopez, whose eight victories against Boston make him the winningest active pitcher vs. the Red Sox. "But he gave me everything he had."

Down by five, the Orioles were hardly fazed. Tejada led the cheers from the top of the dugout. Each time an Orioles runner scored, the shortstop would be the first to greet him.

"That's something that we haven't seen a lot in the past," Mazzilli said. "They seem to strive for that. Obviously Miggy is the one on the top step getting everyone going."

Added Javy Lopez: "I've never felt so comfortable [than with this team]. They were winning by four or five runs, but the team that we have, that's not enough."

The Orioles chased Boston starter Matt Clement, whom they had never beaten and who shut them a week ago, by scoring four runs off the right-hander in the fifth.

Larry Bigbie got the big hit, driving in two runs with a double off reliever Alan Embree to cut the Red Sox's lead to 8-7.

"Four and two-thirds [innings], 12 hits," said Red Sox manager Terry Francona, referring to Clement, who looked the other way when Francona came to the mound to remove him one out shy of being eligible for the win.

"Believe me, I wanted him to stay in there. ... I didn't think we could go any longer."

Trailing 8-7, the Orioles couldn't cash in on opportunities in the sixth and seventh to tie the game or go ahead. Meanwhile, the Orioles' bullpen kept the deficit at one run.

Steve Reed came in to relieve Lopez in the fourth and pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. Steve Kline entered in the fifth and did the same. Then, Julio, who Mazzilli said was "running on fumes," pitched two scoreless innings, getting slugger David Ortiz on a forceout and striking out Kevin Millar to end the eighth.

Closer B.J. Ryan struck out Mark Bellhorn to end the game.

"We're showing other teams that we're here to play," Kline said. "We have to beat the Yankees and the Red Sox."

Each time they do, their confidence rises tremendously.

"Obviously we are going to lose games," said Javy Lopez. "But right now, looking around at this team, I don't see any reason we should lose a game. We have everything you'd want on a team."

Orioles today

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site, time: Fenway Park, Boston, 1:05 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (1-1, 7.65) vs. Red Sox's Tim Wakefield (2-0, 1.75)

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