Perlozzo's home debut is win

He returns to new office with smile after 3-run 7th beats Devil Rays, 5-2

August 10, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

As he sat back behind his new desk, in his spacious new office, Sam Perlozzo tried to treat it like just another win, one he hopes will begin the Orioles' push back into the playoff picture.

He dispersed all the credit to other directions in the clubhouse, knowing full well that no matter what he said to the media, all the talk was eventually going to come back to him. He was content to deal with it, if only for one night.

In his first home game as manager of the team he grew up rooting for, Perlozzo watched the Orioles score three times to break a seventh-inning tie, and beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 5-2, last night before 34,870 at Camden Yards.

"It's a great feeling, there's no question about it for me personally," said Perlozzo, who is 3-2 since taking over from the fired Lee Mazzilli last week. "Sooner or later, we have to get by me and get with the ballclub. They were the ones that went out and did the job for us. I didn't do anything tonight, but they did."

Melvin Mora, Miguel Tejada and Javy Lopez each connected for RBI singles in the seventh inning and Eric Byrnes tied the game with a two-run homer in the fifth inning.

B.J. Ryan came on in the ninth to strike out three of four hitters to record his 24th save and allow Erik Bedard to pick up his first win since May 21. Bedard (6-4) surrendered five hits and two runs, striking out four and walking four.

"I don't remember my last win, but it feels good," said Bedard, who was making his fifth start since going on the disabled list for nearly two months. "I've worked hard to get back. Unfortunately, it took a while."

Bedard's effort - he allowed his only two runs on a bases-loaded single by Toby Hall in the second inning - stood to go to waste, until the Orioles' offense awoke in the seventh inning.

With Chris Gomez on second and one out, Lou Piniella replaced starter Scott Kazmir with Chad Orvella. The right-hander walked Byrnes and after getting Mora in a 0-2 hole, allowed a single over second baseman Nick Green to score Gomez.

After reaching first, Mora, who missed the previous three games with a sprained right ankle and was hitting.189 with runners in scoring position and less than two outs, pumped his fist and hugged new first base coach Dave Cash. Tejada and Lopez followed with singles and the Orioles had a 5-2 lead.

They also had some clutch hitting they have been searching for since the All-Star break. The Orioles entered last night hitting just .195 with runners in scoring position in the second half, the second worst average in the major leagues.

The Orioles pounded out 12 hits yesterday and every starter, except designated hitter, Alejandro Freire, whose contract was purchased yesterday from Triple-A Ottawa, had at least one.

It was Byrnes though, who Perlozzo credited for getting the biggest hit of all. Trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning, Byrnes slammed Kazmir's 2-1 changeup into the left-field seats for his ninth home run and second since being acquired by the Orioles before the trade deadline.

"We're sitting there trying to scuffle for some runs, trying to get some base runners and finally get one on and have a guy like that just powder one - that's just a tremendous lift for the ballclub," said Perlozzo, who went on to praise Byrnes' energy.

"There are times when the team gets a little quiet. I can count on Byrnsey saying something, and that means a lot to us."

Byrnes dropped his bat after the ball took flight, and several Orioles jumped to the top step of the dugout to greet him.

"Everybody was fired up," said Byrnes. "It was good to see. Since I've been here, I've been very impressed with the chemistry on this team. ... When you're playing on a team, that's all you can ask for, a bunch of guys that support each other. And for as many stars that are in this clubhouse, that kind of came as a little bit of a shock to me."

There was little else routine about Perlozzo's first home game at the helm. He took the field three times in the first four innings to argue a call, something his predecessor was criticized for not doing enough.

Perlozzo's last trip, following Gomez's protest of a called third strike that ended the fourth, came after hitting coach Terry Crowley was tossed for arguing balls and strikes.

It is not going to be the most enduring memory Perlozzo will take from last night, but a coach fighting for his hitters is something he liked to see.

"I am not going to say it isn't [special]," Perlozzo said. "I'd be disappointed if we didn't win tonight. But ... it doesn't do us a bit of good to win tonight then to go into a tailspin. It is a special moment for me to be here. This is the Baltimore Orioles and the team went out and played like they did - I can't be more happy about that. After tonight, it's back to winning games and trying to get it going."

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