A little means a lot in O's win

Orioles score 4 in odd inning for 6-2 victory over Tigers

`That was a nickel-and-dime inning'

June 06, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- If it's possible to place a value on one inning, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli could have checked under the cushions yesterday for loose change.

All the slow rollers that his club used in the fifth to score four runs in a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Tigers had to be worth something.

"That," Mazzilli said, "was a nickel-and-dime inning."

The costly ones usually involve injuries this season, but everyone made it through yesterday's series finale at Comerica Park without needing X-rays. The Orioles (34-22) had another win, making them 4-3 on their longest road trip of the year and giving them a rested bullpen heading to Pittsburgh for an interleague series against the Pirates. They also had some interesting stories to tell.

Daniel Cabrera (5-4) went seven innings, shutting out the Tigers after Dmitri Young's two-run, opposite-field homer in the first. Todd Williams and Steve Kline retired all six batters they faced in a game that lasted 2 hours, 17 minutes and was the polar opposite of Saturday's slugfest.

"We split in Boston and took two out of three here," Rafael Palmeiro said. "So far, so good."

The Orioles belted two grand slams Saturday to overpower the Tigers, 14-7, but they barely got the ball out of the infield yesterday. Five of their 10 hits never left it.

Distance wasn't important to them. Like house hunters, they were more concerned with location.

"We didn't hit the ball hard," Palmeiro said, "but we were able to score."

Down 2-0 in the fifth, the Orioles began to rally when Tigers first baseman Chris Shelton fielded Palmeiro's grounder, slipped in the dirt and couldn't get to the bag in time. Chris Gomez, starting at second base again for Brian Roberts, singled to right to put left-hander Mike Maroth in a jam.

Then it got a little weird.

Jay Gibbons took a huge cut against Maroth and dribbled a ball off the end of his bat along the third-base line. It went foul momentarily before slicing back into fair territory past Brandon Inge, as if in slow motion, allowing Palmeiro to score.

"It was a cue shot," Mazzilli said. Gibbons never called that pocket, but it counted.

"I was swinging before it got out of his hand," Gibbons said.

"The whole team, I don't think we hit the ball hard once. Well, maybe once. We got fortunate today."

One out later, Sal Fasano sent a bouncer to Inge, whose throw home bounced past Vance Wilson to tie the game and put runners on second and third.

Rookie Ramon Nivar, starting again in center field, provided a 3-2 lead with a grounder to short, bringing up Melvin Mora and more of the unusual.

Mora grounded to Inge, who stayed back along the line as if unsure where the ball was going. Who could blame him? Standing in foul territory, Inge fielded it passively near the bag and made a late throw to first as Fasano chugged home.

"We used to call it the Royals Rally when I was in Kansas City," Fasano said. "It's kind of odd to see with this team here, but you've got to give credit to the guys. Everybody hustles down the line and puts pressure on their guys, and good things happen."

Fasano, the only healthy catcher on the roster, scored again in the seventh after a one-out double. Nivar sent a grounder up the first-base line, the ball again rolling foul and then cutting into fair territory. Maroth grabbed it, missed the tag and lobbed a throw to first that Nivar beat.

A throwing error on a wild pitch increased the lead to 5-2, and Mora's drive to the warning track in center field scored Nivar.

"The hardest ball we hit today was 410 feet for an out," Mazzilli said.

Cabrera wasn't allowing the Tigers many good cuts. He scattered five hits and didn't walk a batter for the first time in his major league career, retiring 18 of the last 21 he faced while relying more on his sinking fastball.

"I was just trying to make good pitches and trying to get a quick inning," Cabrera said.

Said Fasano: "It just looked like he was a hair jumpy in the first."

Young had three of the Tigers' five hits, but his home run didn't faze Cabrera.

"He's the type of kid who turns it up a notch when something like that happens early," Mazzilli said. "He threw the ball extremely well. He can do that. He can dominate a game."

The Orioles were in no position to do that with a lineup still missing four regulars and B.J. Surhoff, who has become one because of the injuries. Mazzilli decided to rest Surhoff and gave Napoleon Calzado his first major league start, in left field.

It looked more like a B game in March, but the Orioles didn't have many options.

"I don't know half the guys' names yet who were out there today, but they did a great job," Gibbons said. "That's what we've got to do. We've got to stay above water right now when everybody's hurt."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Pittsburgh Pirates

Site, time: PNC Park, Pittsburgh, 7:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Sidney Ponson (6-3, 5.11) vs. Pirates' Josh Fogg (4-3, 4.12)

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