Matos' hit in 9th lifts Orioles to 4th in row

His 2-out double, Newhan's defense dash Texas rally as O's prevail, 4-3

Maine yields 2 hits in 6 1/3

Young hits first HR

September 14, 2005|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas - Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo received a phone call yesterday from one of his friends, Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, who discussed all the concerns he holds about his football team after this week's season- opening victory. Perlozzo listened as Parcells highlighted a few positions that might need upgrading if the Cowboys are going to reach the playoffs.

Finally, it was his turn.

Though Perlozzo could have rambled for hours, given all the issues he inherited after Lee Mazzilli's firing last month, he stuck to one subject. The Orioles can't score runs. Not enough to break open a game and allow him to lay off his closer, who has pitched four straight nights.

Another opportunity arrived in the first inning last night, when they loaded the bases with no outs against Texas Rangers starter R.A. Dickey. They settled for two runs, a mere pittance given the circumstances, and needed a two-out double from Luis Matos in the ninth to take a 4-3 victory at Ameriquest Field.

Matos, in a 2-for-24 slump, found the gap in right-center field against Texas closer Francisco Cordero after Walter Young singled and pinch runner Ed Rogers advanced on a sacrifice bunt. It gave the Orioles (69-75) their fourth win in a row.

"It was just time for somebody to step up." Perlozzo said. "Luis has been struggling a little bit. Hopefully that gets his confidence back and he can help us."

"I was looking for a fastball." Matos said, 'because it was 1-0 and he didn't want to get [farther] behind in the count, and I drove it to the other side."

John Maine allowed two hits in 6M-- innings, both on home runs, but Alfonso Soriano doubled off Chris Ray with two outs in the eighth to bring home Michael Young, who singled off Todd Williams.

David Newhan, who replaced Jay Gibbons in right field, cut off the ball in the alley and held Mark Teixeira at third base to keep the score tied.

"That was the big play of the game." Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "That was a good move. I don't know if Gibbons gets to that."

Ray (1-3) ended up with his first major league win because of Newhan's range and Matos" last swing. B.J. Ryan registered his 33rd save, his arm somehow staying attached to his shoulder after four saves in four days.

"I think it's safe to assume he's got the next two days off." Perlozzo said.

Young hit his first major league home run, a bases-empty shot in the seventh that landed on the grass hill beyond center field, an estimated 433 feet from home plate. He also received a shaving cream pie in the face from reliever Jason Grimsley during a post-game television interview.

"I always wondered what that felt like." he said.

The Orioles would like to feel at least one more offensive explosion before the season ends. They"ve scored four runs or fewer in 19 of their past 31 games and reached double figures in hits nine times. They"ve totaled the fewest amount of runs in the league in the second half.

"We're really struggling hitting." Matos said, "but the good thing is, we're winning."

Poised to deliver an early knockout punch to Dickey, the Orioles stuck with their jab.

They filled the bases on singles by Bernie Castro and Melvin Mora, and a walk to Miguel Tejada. Gibbons grounded to third baseman Hank Blalock, who stepped on the bag and threw to first for the double play. Javy Lopez followed with a single that scored Tejada for a 2-0 lead, but Young bounced out to end the inning and leave the Rangers feeling quite fortunate.

The output seemed especially minuscule after Kevin Mench hit a bases-empty homer in the second.

"I thought we had a chance right there." Perlozzo said. "I thought, "We can put five runs on the board."'

Perlozzo's lineup didn't include Brian Roberts, who was given a rare break after fouling a ball off his right ankle Monday night. It didn't include B.J. Surhoff, who collected three hits Monday night and had a homer in two career at-bats against Dickey.

It's still missing Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa, who returned home to rehab their injuries. Eric Byrnes started in left field despite batting .211 against right-handers before last night, and he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts.

Forced to be near-perfect without much run support, Maine came awfully close. Mench's homer was the only hit off him until Blalock cleared the center-field fence leading off the seventh, his first homer in 35 games and 140 at-bats.

Maine finally made it beyond the fifth inning and justified a longer look from the organization as another losing season grinds to a halt and anything positive is relished.

"I made some good pitches when I had to, but I made some mistakes." Maine said. "I kept having to throw off-speed because I was behind in the count. I got away with some things tonight. I've just got to settle down and work things out."

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