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

4 runs in first 3 innings are enough for Lopez, bullpen to get series even

Orioles

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 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 one pitch before Richie Sexson tagged reliever Chris Ray for a three-run home run in the eighth inning.

Melvin Mora supplied the offense, with three hits and three RBIs, including a two-run first-inning home run, to lead the Orioles to a 5-3 victory over the Mariners last night.

Lopez, who improved to 3-0 this season against Seattle, allowing only six earned runs in 20 2/3 innings, 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 Brian Roberts throwing error contributing to the jam. Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo spoke to Lopez on the mound as if he were gauging how much the pitcher had left. Lopez nodded but said little. Perlozzo brought on rookie right hander Ray to face the dangerous Sexson anyway, a decision that backfired with one swing.

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

However, B.J. Ryan came on to get the last out in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 30th save after Miguel Tejada had given the closer some breathing room with an RBI double in the ninth.

The Orioles (66-75) got three hits from Roberts and Tejada and Walter Young's first major league hit. Ichiro Suzuki had four hits for Seattle (61-80).

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.

Melvin 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 Jeff Harris' hanging curve into the left-field seats.

The Orioles tacked on two more in the fourth, started by a one-out double down the left-field line by Roberts. Mora again drove him in, this time with a single. Catcher Javy Lopez hit a Harris pitch back up the middle to score Mora and give the Orioles a 4-0 lead. Seattle was lucky to exit the inning down only four runs as the Orioles got a potential run cut down at the plate for the second straight night.

Getting his first career start, Young lined a single to left field and third base coach Rick Dempsey waved home Jay Gibbons, who was trying to score from second. However, Seattle left fielder Raul Ibanez got to the ball quickly and fired a perfect throw to catcher Yorvit Torrealba that beat Gibbons with room to spare.

First base coach Dave Cash made sure to retrieve the ball from home plate umpire Jerry Meals and Young, 25, was met and congratulated at the top of the dugout by several Orioles. Young, who made a nice catch in the bottom half of that inning at first base, elevating his 6-foot-5, 322-pound frame to catch Torrealba's liner, had been hitless in his first three career at-bats.

"It's something I've been waiting on," said Young before the game. "I am here to play ball. I am ready to go."

Presented a 4-0 lead, Rodrigo Lopez worked quickly.

In the first inning, Lopez allowed an infield single to Suzuki, but the Mariners right fielder was thrown out trying to steal by catcher Geronimo Gil. Suzuki, who appeared to have gotten his leg in before shortstop Tejada applied the tag, had a few words with second base umpire Mike Winters before he returned to the Mariners' bench.

Seattle manager Mike Hargrove emerged from the dugout and did the same; however, unlike Suzuki, Hargrove's protest earned him an early exit. A night after his counterpart and former bench coach was ejected, Hargrove was given the same treatment by the umpiring crew, but the former Orioles manager certainly got his money's worth.

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. Perlozzo said that the club felt that was the best option, considering Markakis wasn't going to play every day with the Orioles anyway.

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