Orioles run past Indians in 4-0 win

Tejada's 2 steals break ice

Gibbons follows with HR to back Cabrera gem

Baseball

July 03, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

The Orioles' scoreless stretch had reached 12 innings and their frustration level extended even further, when shortstop Miguel Tejada drew a bases-empty walk in the sixth inning yesterday.

Manager Lee Mazzilli acknowledged a night earlier that his team was trying to do too much, trying to halt two weeks' worth of struggles with every at-bat and every stint on the bases. However, after a couple of missed scoring opportunities in the early innings against Cleveland's Kevin Millwood yesterday, the Orioles had grown tired of waiting for something to happen.

So Tejada, who before yesterday had just one stolen base, took off for second and slid in safely. A couple of pitches later, he swiped third, leading to the Orioles' first run.

Jay Gibbons then delivered the biggest blow in the sixth, slamming a three-run home run, more than enough for starter Daniel Cabrera, who pitched seven scoreless innings in the Orioles' 4-0 victory over the Indians in front of 38,059 at Camden Yards.

"We're not hitting the way we're supposed to be hitting," said Tejada, who twice in the first three innings yesterday failed to drive in a runner at third with less than two outs. "We can't win the game every time with a big home run. I didn't help the team with my first two at-bats, so I just tried to get on base. I know I can run."

The victory was just the second in 10 games for the Orioles (44-36), who remained 2 1/2 games behind Boston in the American League East. The Orioles also will likely have third baseman Melvin Mora back in the lineup today as they attempt to salvage a four-game split against Cleveland (43-36).

"We're right in the thick of things," said Gibbons, who now has 11 homers, surpassing his total from an injury-hampered 2004 season. "We would have taken that ... in spring training."

Mazzilli tried a little of everything yesterday to change his team's sagging fortunes. Brian Roberts also stole two bases, and the Orioles swiped a season-high five. He held Sammy Sosa out of the lineup, meeting with the struggling outfielder for about 35 minutes before yesterday's game. In Sosa's place in right field, Eli Marrero got another start and he drove in Tejada with the Orioles' first run.

Mazzilli called on reliever Tim Byrdak, who was just summoned from Triple-A Ottawa earlier that day, in the eighth inning and the left-handed reliever lifted a struggling bullpen with a scoreless inning.

B.J. Ryan pitched a scoreless ninth, securing Cabrera's first victory since June 5. The right-hander, who improved to 6-7, had lost three straight decisions last month when pitching coach Ray Miller decided to tinker with the windup of the 6-foot-7 24-year-old.

In his past two starts, Cabrera has used more body rotation in his windup, allowing him to hide the ball better and be more balanced on his way to the plate.

The change has helped "a lot," said Cabrera, who gave up four hits, walked two and struck out five.

"I feel like I can control my pitches more and I feel stronger. I tried to attack the zone with my fastball and my breaking ball and I tried to throw strikes early."

One sequence typified Cabrera's dominance over the Indians, and it came after Travis Hafner singled to start the fourth. Cabrera threw a 99-mph fastball by Victor Martinez for the first out, caught Ronnie Belliard looking at a 98-mph fastball for out No. 2 and then got Ben Broussard on a called strike three on another 98-mph fastball.

"He really brought it to us," said Indians manager Eric Wedge. "He showed us what a young pitcher like that is capable of when he is on."

But Cabrera's effort would have mattered little if the Orioles, who were shut out for the final seven innings on Friday night, hadn't finally figured a way to crack the scoreboard.

In the third inning, David Newhan walked and moved to third with no outs on Geronimo Gil's bloop single. Roberts flied to left, too shallow for Newhan to attempt to score. On his way to the dugout, Roberts ripped off his batting gloves and slung them in the crowd in frustration.

After Larry Bigbie walked, Tejada pounced on Millwood's first pitch, popping out to Broussard at first. Rafael Palmeiro, who went 0-for-3 and remained eight hits shy of 3,000, then struck out to end the inning.

"I was a little bit shocked," said Mazzilli about the heart of his order failing to drive in a run.

However, they finally scored in the sixth. Marrero hit a slow roller to Belliard, who bobbled the ball twice and was unable to tag or throw out Palmeiro, who was headed to second base. Tejada, who got to third by tripling his season's stolen base totals in a matter of seconds, came home.

"Miggy's not a guy that is going to get out and run all the time," Mazzilli said. "But he's a guy that always tries to pick the team up."

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