Chen allows 2 hits

O's bats awaken, 7-0

Tejada, Gibbons, Byrnes homer to help lefty beat Jays, halt 5-game drought

September 01, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

TORONTO - Another trade deadline passed last night, and the Orioles didn't make any changes to the roster. Their restraint was understandable. Never break up a hot team.

Left-hander Bruce Chen allowed two hits through the eighth inning, Jay Gibbons, Miguel Tejada and Eric Byrnes homered to lead an offensive awakening, and the Orioles broke a five-game losing streak by defeating the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-0, at Rogers Centre.

Tejada's three-run shot off Blue Jays starter Gustavo Chacin gave the Orioles a 4-0 lead in the third inning. He paced the dugout after circling the bases, gesturing with his hands as part of an animated dialogue that brought a few smiles to a group of players who needed some levity.

"When we've been playing the way we are, nothing seems safe to me," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. "For us to make a push and put some runs on the board, Miggy's got to be involved in it. He really lifted the spirits of the ballclub, even before the game. He said, `You're going to hear a lot from me tonight. I'm back.' He had a lot of energy. It seemed like the old Miggy, and the club responded."

The Orioles (62-70) haven't won a series in two weeks, not since sweeping the Oakland Athletics on the road. They've split the first two games against the Blue Jays, providing a rare opportunity tonight for a club that's lost 30 of its past 43.

Chen limited the Blue Jays to an infield hit by Aaron Hill and retired 18 in a row before Corey Koskie singled in the eighth. The other base runner came when Reed Johnson walked in the first.

"I don't think you can ask for any better than that," Perlozzo said. "He mixed his pitches, he threw strikes, he kept the hitters off-balance. He used all his pitches. He pitched all around the zone - up, down, in and out. He was just outstanding."

Said Chen: "When you get a four-run lead early, it makes you just go out and throw strikes. Don't walk any guys. Just make them hit the ball."

Rafael Palmeiro wasn't in the starting lineup with the Blue Jays sending a left-hander to the mound. He's also dealing with a sore right knee and ankle, and a 2-for-26 slump over his past seven games.

"He's obviously not healthy yet," Perlozzo said. "I'd like to see him give me 100 percent in practice the next day or two and decide whether he can go full tilt. Until I find out how healthy he is, I'm just going to give him some time. He can't help us halfway.

"I told him it's difficult for me to just DH him because we've got a bunch of guys we're looking to rotate, and he almost needs to play the field."

As if his health and the stigma of his steroid-related suspension weren't enough, Palmeiro handled persistent questions yesterday about the earplugs he wore to muffle the crowd's hostile reception during Tuesday's game. He agreed to meet with reporters on the field before batting practice.

Asked if he'll wear the earplugs for his next start, Palmeiro said, "I don't know. I'll take it one day at a time. Maybe I won't do it again."

Perlozzo figured his first baseman's intentions were good, though the idea might not have been too sound.

"He's a grown man. He pretty much knows what he can put up with and what he can't put up with," Perlozzo said. "He's at least trying to deal with it to some degree. That's tough enough as it is.

"It shows me that he was trying to focus out the noise so he could help the team. He felt like it would help him concentrate to get a hit for us, and that I appreciate."

Chen (11-8) did plenty to quiet the crowd last night, recording seven strikeouts and coming within three outs of his first career shutout. His first complete game was thrown in this building last year.

"I wanted to go back out there, especially because we've been using the bullpen a lot, but I understand the situation," Chen said.

Chacin (11-8) remains winless against the Orioles in four career starts, but they tallied only four earned runs against him in 19 1/3 innings before last night. They exceeded that total in the seventh on Gomez's sacrifice fly that scored Byrnes.

"Hopefully we can build off this," Byrnes said. "Obviously our playoff chances don't look too great, but you go out there and try to play hard every day. That's all we can really do - and hope for a miracle."

NOTE: Second baseman Bernie Castro and first baseman Walter Young will join the Orioles tomorrow from Triple-A Ottawa as part of the roster expansion. More players will report later this month.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site/Time: Toronto/7:07

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/1090 AM

Starters: Orioles' Hayden Penn (2-2, 6.75) vs. Blue Jays' Dustin McGowan (1-2, 8.38)

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