DeRosa's homer in 12th boosts Rangers over O's

Rookie Koronka goes strong 8 1/3 to help stymie O's

Rangers 2 Orioles 1

May 04, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Arlington, Texas -- Perhaps it was an omen when the Orioles' first loss of the season came on a three-hitter against a left-hander starter.

Entering last night's game, the club was batting 94 points lower against left-handers than against right-handers. And that was before Texas Rangers rookie John Koronka became the latest left-hander to bedevil the Orioles.

Koronka and four relievers combined to hold the Orioles to one run over 12 innings. And second baseman Mark DeRosa homered off Orioles reliever John Halama to give the Rangers a 2-1 win before a crowd of 23,783 at Ameriquest Field.

Koronka went 8 1/3 innings, allowing six hits, no walks and one run. He didn't get the win but neutralized a superb outing by Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera.

Cabrera pitched a strong seven innings, allowing one run, striking out six and walking only two. But he left with the game tied 1-1.

Cabrera was attempting to deliver a second consecutive strong start, something he hadn't done all season.

He started in overpowering fashion with first-inning strikeouts of the Rangers' two best hitters, Michael Young and Mark Teixeira. He got Teixeira, the former Mount St. Joseph standout, with a 98-mph fastball on the outside corner.

That inning would be Cabrera's best.

Texas third baseman Hank Blalock doubled into the left-field gap to start the second inning. But when the next batter hit a grounder to third, Melvin Mora alertly caught Blalock coming off the bag too soon and threw him out. Cabrera retired the next two batters easily to escape the inning.

DeRosa led off the next inning with another double, this one a hard grounder just inside third base. Center fielder Gary Mat thews Jr. followed with a bunt single. DeRosa then scored the game's first run on a sacrifice fly by Young.

Shortstop Brandon Fahey saved Cabrera in the fourth when he ranged past second base to field a DeRosa grounder that could've scored a run. Fahey grew up about 15 minutes from Ameriquest Field and started his fourth major league contest before more than 100 friends and relatives. He lined sharply to right in his first at-bat, stroked an infield single in his second and made several other standout defensive plays.

Cabrera actually grew more efficient in the later innings, retiring the Rangers on eight pitches in the sixth.

Rangers left fielder Brad Wilkerson started the seventh with a sharp grounder that hopped up and ricocheted off first baseman Kevin Millar's chest for a single. But Cabrera struck out DeRosa and got Matthews to fly out to squelch another rally.

The massive right-hander continued his pattern of looking like a different pitcher every time out. He was neither hopelessly wild as he was in his first start nor clinically efficient as he was in a win over the Seattle Mariners last Friday.

Cabrera was consistently near the plate but wild enough to run his pitch count to 87 after five innings.

Unfortunately for him, Koronka was just as sharp.

The Orioles had never faced the rookie but entered the game with an abysmal .206 average against left-handers.

The rookie didn't appear overpowering but he changed speeds consistently and cut through the Orioles' lineup. Jeff Conine's double was the club's only hit the first time through the order.

Luis Terrero almost made Perlozzo look like a sage when he drove a ball to the right-field wall in the third, but Kevin Mench made a leaping catch to end the inning.

It was a lefty, Jay Gibbons, who scored the first real damage off Koronka with a stinging home run into the right-field stands to tie the score 1-1 in the fourth.

Conine doubled again to lead off the fifth. Fahey moved him to third with a single that almost got through the infield. But Rod Barajas picked off Conine to end the threat. The Rangers catcher pump faked to second as if he were trying to get the stealing Fahey and then fired to third to catch Conine instead.

Fahey lined another single in the eighth inning but was picked off first to end the inning.

Koronka did some of his best work against the Orioles' most potent right-handed bats, Mora and Miguel Tejada. He induced five groundouts from the pair and struck out the red-hot Tejada swinging in the sixth.

Of the 25 Orioles outs against Koronka, 14 were hit on the ground.

The Orioles put runners on first and third in the top of the 10th and second baseman Chris Gomez hit a line drive off reliever Joaquin Benoit, but Young jumped and pulled it into his glove.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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