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

HRs by Tejada, J. Lopez, 20-hit attack lift Orioles to fifth straight victory

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 early. But game by game, the Orioles do something else that makes people take notice, to suggest that this season may bring something different.

All they did last night last night was fight back from five runs down against the World Series champs after their 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 beat the Red Sox, 11-8, before 35,670, the largest regular-season crowd at Fenway Park since 1990.

Their fifth straight win - and 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 the season since Sept. 25, 1997. The Orioles will go for a sweep of the Red Sox and a 6-0 road trip this afternoon behind Daniel Cabrera.

Tejada hammered an 0-2 off-speed pitch from Foulke over the Green Monster in left field to give the Orioles a 9-8 advantage.

Then, after Rafael Palmeiro got his third hit of the night, Lopez hit his third home run of the season, also over the Green Monster, giving the Orioles a three-run lead.

The offensive surge - the Orioles hammered Boston pitching for 20 hits, with Tejada and Melvin Mora getting four each - stunned the Fenway crowd, which had watched the home team crush Red Sox nemesis Rodrigo Lopez for seven hits and eight earned runs through just 3 1/3 innings.

Manny Ramirez's three-run shot in the fourth, his seventh of the season, had given Boston an 8-3 lead.

But the Orioles chased Boston starter Matt Clement, whom they had never beaten and who shut them out a week ago, in the fifth, scoring four runs off the right-hander. Larry Bigbie got the big hit, driving in two with a double off reliever Alan Embree to cut the Red Sox's lead to 8-7.

The Orioles" bullpen did the rest, pitching 5 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Jorge Julio, who pitched two scoreless innings, got the win and B.J. Ryan picked up his third save, striking out Mark Bellhorn to end the game.

Entering last night, Rodrigo Lopez was 8-4 with a 3.40 ERA against Boston. His resume included more wins vs. the Red Sox than any other active pitcher, and he was 5-1 with a 2.09 ERA for his career at Fenway.

Last Wednesday, he limited Boston to just five hits through eight innings, but his counterpart then - and again last night - Clement was even better. An unearned second-inning run was the difference and Lopez suffered a 1-0 loss.

But given a 1-0 lead on Sammy Sosa's first-inning RBI single last night - and after working through the first three Boston hitters in seven pitches - Lopez became undone in the second inning. David Ortiz hit a double, Lopez plunked Jason Varitek and then Edgar Renteria walked on four pitches.

With the bases loaded and only one out, Lopez fought back to get a 3-2 count on Bill Mueller, but the Boston third baseman fisted a bloop single over the outstretched glove of shortstop Tejada, scoring Ortiz.

Lopez struck out Mark Bellhorn looking for the second out, but Johnny Damon then hit a towering drive that caromed off the Green Monster in left-center field, driving in two. Leading 3-1, the Red Sox got two more runs in the inning when Ramirez singled to left.

Lopez needed 35 pitches to get through the inning. When it was over, his team trailed by four runs and he had surrendered one fewer earned run than he had in his previous five starts against the Red Sox combined.

Clement also found much more resistance in this start. Palmeiro hit an RBI double in the third inning and Brian Roberts did the same in the fourth, cutting Boston's lead to 5-3.

Damon led off the fourth with a double, Trot Nixon walked and Ramirez lined Lopez's 3-2 curveball over the Green Monster. The Red Sox led 8-3 and Lopez's night ended one batter later. He allowed eight earned runs, seven hits and four walks in 3 1/3 innings.

Given a five-run cushion, Clement faltered in the fifth inning. Sosa singled in Tejada, who had led off with a double, and Luis Matos brought home Sosa with a single. With the lead down to 8-5 and two men on, Red Sox manager Terry Francona pulled Clement potentially one out away from being eligible for the win.

Clement stared in the other direction as Francona headed to the mound and then barely acknowledged his manager while handing him the ball. Larry Bigbie, in a rare at-bat against a left-hander, greeted reliever Alan Embree with a double down the left-field line, scoring Javy Lopez and Matos and pulling the Orioles within 8-7. Roberts grounded out to end the inning.

The Orioles had a chance to tie it in the sixth, but Javy Lopez popped out to shallow left with runners on the corners and two outs. In the seventh, Roberts grounded out to end the inning with Matos on second base.

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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