Reeling O's kept quiet by Sabathia in 3-1 defeat

Indians lefty holds Orioles to 3 hits

Mora could be back in lineup today

Sabathia, Indians quiet O's bats, hold offense to 3 hits in 3-1 win

July 02, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

They looked overmatched against C.C. Sabathia's fastball, did little against his off-speed pitches, and when it was over last night, Rodrigo Lopez's quality start having been wasted, the Orioles were again left grasping. This time, it was for positives.

At least they hadn't lost any ground in the standings. On a night the Orioles put virtually nothing but zeroes on the scoreboard, that counted for something.

Sabathia, his hat cocked to the side and his 6-foot-7, 290-pound frame commanding the pitcher's mound, delivered a dominating performance, shutting down the Orioles in the Indians' 3-1 victory before 26,407 at Camden Yards.

"When you have a guy throwing 95 [mph] on the black and commanding all his off-speed stuff, all you can really do is battle and then tip your hat to him," said Orioles outfielder Eli Marrero, who had one of the Orioles' three hits, tying a season low, and scored their only run. "As soon as he got those three runs to work with, he was lights out. There was really not much we can do."

Wasting seven solid innings by Lopez, who delivered the staff's first quality start in the past 11 games, the Orioles (43-36) lost for the eighth time in nine outings. Fortunately for the Orioles, the Boston Red Sox also were beaten, leaving the Orioles 2 1/2 games back in the American League East.

"I feel like things are going as bad as they could right now," said Orioles outfielder Larry Bigbie. "The only positive is we're only 2 1/2 games out."

Moral victories were needed last night, along with possible good news. Melvin Mora could be back in the lineup today after missing nine games because of a strained right hamstring. Without their starting third baseman, the Orioles went 1-8. Mora has been running the past two days and was available for emergency pinch-hitting duty last night.

Aside from consecutive second-inning doubles last night, the second by Chris Gomez, who drove in the Orioles' run, the home team looked defenseless.

Reaching 100 mph on the stadium radar gun at one point, Sabathia (6-4) went 7 2/3 innings, striking out seven and allowing just the three hits and one run. The burly left-hander, with two All-Star Game appearances on his resume, walked five, but that was part of what made him so tough. The Orioles just didn't know where the ball was going once it left his hand.

"When you have a guy that throws 95 and is conveniently wild, it's even tougher to hit," Bigbie said. "A guy that throws that hard, you'd rather have him pumping the strike zone."

Bob Howry relieved Sabathia with two outs in the eighth inning and got Miguel Tejada to ground out with a man on. Bob Wickman entered in the ninth and created a little drama before recording his 22nd save for the Indians (43-35).

Wickman walked Sammy Sosa and then made an errant throw on Jay Gibbons' grounder, putting two men on in the ninth with one out. The potential winning run, Gomez grounded into a double play, his team-leading 11th.

Rafael Palmeiro went 0-for-3, his hit total remaining at 2,992 and his 12-game hitting streak ended. Booed before and after each at-bat, Sosa was 0-for-3 and will carry a 1-for-30 slump into this afternoon's game. That's if he plays.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli is pondering giving Sosa a day off today or tomorrow. Sosa has gone 10 games without an RBI and after hitting .281 in April, the outfielder has hit .196 with five homers and 15 RBIs over 39 games.

"I think it is just eating him up that he is not living up to what he believes he can do," Mazzilli said.

Sosa, however, is not the only Oriole who appears to be trying too hard.

"I just think it is natural when you are not scoring runs, to want to do more," Mazzilli said. "Sometimes you can't make things happen. You just have to let it happen."

Lopez (7-4) wasn't overpowering, allowing nine hits, but for a staff that hadn't gotten a quality start since Hayden Penn beat the Colorado Rockies on June 19, his effort was plenty. The right-hander left after the seventh inning, becoming the second starter to pitch more than six innings in the Orioles' past 11 games.

"I think I had good stuff, but we are having a bad moment right now, where we're not scoring any runs," Lopez said.

Lopez made timely pitches to dodge trouble early, but wasn't able to get out of the sixth inning unscathed. Travis Hafner hit a single and Ben Broussard walked. Lopez quickly got two strikes on Ron Belliard, but the Cleveland second basemen hit a slow grounder down the third-base line. Gomez fielded it quickly and cleanly, but his throw was too late.

With the bases loaded and no outs, the Indians got sacrifice flies from Aaron Boone and Jody Gerut and then Josh Bard hit a run-scoring double off the wall in left-center field. The Indians' 3-1 lead felt like an even larger cushion the way Sabathia was throwing.

Said Indians manager Eric Wedge: "I thought he was as good as he's been all year."

Orioles today

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Site, time: Camden Yards, 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: No TV/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Indians' Kevin Millwood (3-5, 3.08) vs. Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (5-7, 5.48)

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