O's win a glimpse of what might have been

Cabrera goes 7 innings in return against Jays

3 RBIs for J. Lopez in 5-0 victory

September 07, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The Orioles celebrated the 10-year anniversary of Cal Ripken's record-breaking night by reminding him how interest in the team can vanish by September.

An announced crowd of 20,729 turned out last night to relive Ripken's passing of Lou Gehrig for consecutive games played, and to watch a 5-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays at Camden Yards. The gathering seemed more intimate. Plenty of seats were empty, just like the earlier hope that the team would stay in contention.

Winning for only the fifth time in 18 games, the Orioles (65-73) received seven shutout innings from Daniel Cabrera and three RBIs from Javy Lopez. They also got one each from sources outside the norm, catcher Geronimo Gil and first baseman Alejandro Freire.

Making his first start in almost a month, Cabrera scattered four hits and struck out 10. He hadn't won since July 14, and hadn't pitched for the Orioles since going on the disabled list Aug. 17 with a strained back muscle.

Cabrera suffered the injury while warming in the bullpen. He made it through the gates without incident last night, and reminded the organization that his stuff could make him a No. 1 starter in the future.

"That's the kind of game we look for Daniel to have all the time," interim manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Cabrera twice hit 99 mph on the stadium radar gun while facing Corey Koskie in the second inning. The second fastball was drilled to right field and bounced off the padded fence below Jay Gibbons' glove for a double, and Shea Hillenbrand followed with an infield hit.

In danger of falling behind early, Cabrera (9-11) struck out Eric Hinske and got Alex Rios to bounce into a double play, with Miguel Tejada ranging near second base and stepping on the bag before throwing to first.

"I thought, `Holy cow, here we go again,' and when he got out of that, I said, `All right, that's a major step in a good direction,'" Perlozzo said.

"He has so much talent and his stuff is so good. You want somebody like that to come out in the rotation next year and we can say, `We've got one,' and not have to think about it. You want him to be there."

Given the Orioles' lack of offense these days, falling behind by any margin isn't a smart idea. And they weren't sure what to expect from Blue Jays left-hander Ted Lilly, who usually is tough on them but hadn't pitched since July 24 because of a left biceps tendinitis.

Lilly was 3-0 in 10 games against the Orioles before last night, making them the only American League team that hadn't beaten him at least once. But he walked five in 2 1/3 innings, and his lack of control cost him three runs.

A two-out walk to Luis Matos extended the second inning, and Gil handed the Orioles a 1-0 lead with a single to right field. Gil was playing in his second game since going on the disabled list two months ago with a sprained left thumb.

The Orioles loaded the bases with none out in the third on consecutive walks to Melvin Mora and Tejada and a single by Gibbons. Lopez grounded into a force at second to score Mora, and Freire increased the lead to 3-0 with a single to left.

Lilly faced 15 batters before manager John Gibbons brought in reliever Brandon League. Eight of them reached base.

"We took advantage of a couple walks and had some timely hitting," Perlozzo said. "I still think we're a better hitting club than what we've been doing."

All three of Cabrera's strikeouts in the third came on his slider, as did strikeouts of Hinske to end the fourth, Rios and Orlando Hudson in the fifth and Koskie to end the sixth. Rios froze on a curve to end the seventh. Cabrera had plenty of heat, but he was cooking without it.

"My slider was working today and I just threw it," Cabrera said.

Said Perlozzo: "We've told Daniel major league hitters will time a jet going through the strike zone if they've seen it enough. If they can sit on one pitch, they'll hit it eventually. If he can throw off their timing and change speeds like he did tonight, they're going to have a tough time."

Cabrera retired 11 of the last 12 batters he faced after walking Koskie in the fourth. With his pitch count at 108, he didn't go past the seventh. It wasn't necessary. He did enough to defeat the Blue Jays for the first time in five starts this season.

"I saw it in his eyes," Tejada said. "He really had that confidence. That's what we need from him."

With the Ripken festivities completed, the fans saved one last ovation for Walter Young, who made his major league debut and walked as a pinch hitter in the seventh. Young is believed to be the largest player by listed weight (322) to appear in a game.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site/Time: Camden Yards/7:05

TV/Radio: CSN/1090 AM

Starters: Blue Jays' Scott Downs (2-3, 4.06) vs. Orioles' John Maine (2-1, 2.91)

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