O's strike quickly, top Mariners, 5-3

4 runs in first 3 innings are enough for Lopez to gain his 14th victory


September 11, 2005|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - A night after generating no offense against the ageless Jamie Moyer until the eighth inning, the Orioles jumped on Seattle Mariners rookie Jeff Harris for four runs in the first three innings last night.

It was hardly an offensive outburst, but the Orioles, who have scored the fewest runs in the American League since the All-Star break, will settle for a flare-up these days.

Rodrigo Lopez shut out the Mariners for seven innings, exiting the game one pitch before Richie Sexson tagged reliever Chris Ray for a three-run home run in the eighth inning.

B.J. Ryan came on to get the game's last four outs, striking out Ichiro Suzuki for the final one and saving the Orioles' 5-3 victory over the Mariners before 30,408 at Safeco Field.

After falling a season-high 10 games under .500 with Friday's loss, the Orioles (66-75) got three hits and three RBIs, including a first-inning two-run homer, from third baseman Melvin Mora.

The top three batters in the Orioles' order - Brian Roberts, Mora and Miguel Tejada - were a combined 9-for-15 with four RBIs and five runs.

"When they do that, we are a different team," said Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo.

Lopez (14-9), who improved to 3-0 this season against Seattle, allowing only five earned runs in 20 2/3 innings vs. the Mariners, didn't allow a runner past second base until Yuniesky Betancourt tripled with two outs in the seventh inning.

The right-hander left the game with one out and men on second and third, a Roberts throwing error contributing to the jam.

Perlozzo spoke to Lopez on the mound as if he was gauging how much the pitcher had left. Lopez nodded and told his manager that he "felt good."

"I basically just went out and said, `Look, I don't want you to lose this game,'" said Perlozzo on the mound visit. "He's such a competitor. He'll never tell you that he wants out of the game."

Perlozzo brought on rookie right-hander Ray to face the dangerous Sexson, a decision that backfired with one swing.

Ray struck out Sexson in a big spot the last time the Orioles were here, but this time, the Mariners' cleanup hitter was plenty prepared. Sexson hammered Ray's first pitch deep into the right-center-field seats.

However, Ryan came on to get the last out in the eighth and then pitched a scoreless ninth for his 30th save. Suzuki had four hits to lift his batting average above .300 for Seattle (61-80), but was struck out by Ryan in his most important at-bat.

"We needed a win, so it was time," said Perlozzo when asked about using Ryan to get four outs.

Added Lopez, who gave up seven hits and one earned run: "I got a little bit nervous there, but when B.J gets on the mound, I feel secure."

The Orioles were an energetic bunch in the clubhouse before the game, a surprising development considering the nature of Friday's 3-2 loss. Bruce Chen, who is working toward a degree in civil engineering at Georgia Tech, chided North Carolina alum B.J. Surhoff about the Yellow Jackets' football victory over the Tar Heels earlier in the day.

Mora led a spirited conversation on the other side of the clubhouse and Perlozzo, who suffered his first career ejection in Friday's loss while protesting the decisive play -Roberts being thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning - had his sense of humor intact.

When told by a reporter that Roberts looked safe at the plate in the eighth inning and the Orioles should have tied the game, Perlozzo grinned and quipped, "That doesn't make me feel any better."

A couple of runs for a team that has struggled so mightily to get any, may have. The Orioles scored two in the first as Mora followed Roberts' leadoff single with his 20th home run. Mora slammed Harris' hanging curve into the left-field seats.

The Orioles tacked on two more in the third, started by a one-out double down the left-field line by Roberts. Mora again drove him in, this time with a single, and catcher Javy Lopez hit an RBI single to give the Orioles a 4-0 lead.

The Orioles saw a potential fifth run get cut down at the plate as Jay Gibbons was trying to score from second on Walter Young's single. It was Young's first major league hit and it came on a night where he made his first career start.

Lopez allowed an infield single to Suzuki in the first, but the Mariners right fielder was thrown out trying to steal by catcher Geronimo Gil even though his leg appeared to reach the bag before shortstop Tejada's tag.

Seattle manager Mike Hargrove emerged from the dugout and a night after his counterpart and former bench coach was ejected in the eighth inning, Hargrove was given the same treatment by the umpiring crew.

"I was a little ticked he got to sit in the office for nine innings," Perlozzo joked. "I only got to sit for one."

NOTE: Asked yesterday about the team's reasoning for not calling up Double-A outfielder Nick Markakis, who is considered the team's top position player prospect, Perlozzo said that the club wanted to give Markakis a break before he reports to the Arizona Fall League on Oct. 1.

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