O's offense replies in rout of Indians

Night after big loss, O's bat around twice, get 21 hits

Orioles 18 Indians 9

April 20, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

It had all the makings of another long night for the home team at Camden Yards. The Orioles trailed by four runs last night after the Cleveland Indians wreaked havoc on another starting pitcher, knocking out Rodrigo Lopez and earning another shot at a troubled bullpen.

However, one night after being pounded into submission in a 14-run loss, the Orioles fought back. They scored seven runs in the fifth inning, three in the sixth and five in the eighth on their way to an 18-9 victory before a crowd of 19,510.

Corey Patterson hit a two-run homer in the decisive fifth, Jay Gibbons had a three-run shot in the sixth, and catcher Ramon Hernandez connected for a three-run homer in the eighth.

The Orioles ( 9-7) pounded out 21 hits - one more than the Indians had in their 15-1 victory on Tuesday night - and batted around twice. Every starter had an RBI except Brian Roberts, who reached base four times and had two stolen bases.

Lopez again wasn't sharp, allowing nine hits, seven earned runs and two walks. He didn't make it out of the fifth inning, and the Orioles were trailing 7-3. But they sent 11 men to the plate in their half of the fifth to turn the game around.

With one out, Miguel Tejada hit his team's third consecutive single, cutting the Orioles' deficit to 7-4. Gibbons flied out, then Hernandez got the first of the Orioles' four straight two-out hits, driving in Melvin Mora. Designated hitter Javy Lopez followed with a run-scoring double, and the Orioles trailed 7-6.

Cleveland manager Eric Wedge had Matt Miller warming in the bullpen but opted to stay with starter Jake Westbrook, who was one out short of being eligible for the victory. It was an out that he'd never get.

Kevin Millar blasted a ball to dead center that eluded the diving Grady Sizemore and bounced over the wall for a two-run, ground-rule double, giving the Orioles an 8-7 lead.

The Indians brought in Miller and Patterson slammed his second pitch into the right-field bleachers for his first home run with his new team, a 375-foot shot that gave the Orioles a 10-7 lead.

After Cleveland cut the deficit to 10-8 on Aaron Boone's bases- empty homer off John Halama, the Orioles added three runs in the sixth on Gibbons' fourth homer, a three-run line shot over the scoreboard in right. Halama was credited with the win, allowing one run and three hits in one inning of work.

Orioles pitchers entered the game having allowed 21 home runs, second most in the American League. When Cleveland shortstop Jhonny Peralta took Lopez's 3-2 pitch over the scoreboard in right field in the first inning, it marked the eighth time in the past 10 games that Orioles pitching had given up a home run.

The Indians weren't done with the long ball. After Lopez wiggled out of a jam in the second by getting Boone to line into a double play, he found trouble again in the third when Sizemore led off with a double.

Facing Peralta with one out, Lopez appeared to slip during his delivery and bounced a wild pitch. Hernandez tried to throw out Sizemore going to third, but Mora couldn't handle his throw, which rolled into left field, allowing Sizemore to score.

Victor Martinez compounded Lopez's problems by hitting a two-run homer 400 feet into the right-center field bleachers. It was Martinez's second home run in as many nights and im proved his hitting streak to 14 games, longest in the majors this season.

Martinez's shot gave the Indians a 4-1 lead, a tough climb for a team that seems to be losing a key member each day. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said earlier this season that finding at- bats for his outfielders was the hardest thing that he had to do on a daily basis. Unfortunately for Perlozzo, that task is getting easier.

Two days after David Newhan fractured his right fibula, the Orioles placed Luis Matos on the disabled list with right shoulder inflammation. That undoubtedly will mean more opportunity for Patterson, whom the Orioles acquired in an offseason trade with the hope that the former Chicago Cub would become the starting center fielder, but he was making just his fourth start last night.

It was Patterson who ignited the Orioles' two-run third with a bunt single, a weapon that Orioles officials hope the fleet out fielder will use more. Roberts then was awarded first on catcher's interference, the sixth straight plate appearance that he reached base.

Jeff Conine drove in Patterson with a single and Mora brought in Roberts with a single. Westbrook, however, kept Cleveland's lead at 4-3, getting Tejada, who had driven in the Orioles' first run with a single, to hit into a double play and Gibbons to ground out.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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