O's roar back to defeat Tigers

Mora's single in eighth caps rally as 4 homers end O's 5-game drought

Orioles 7 Tigers 6

May 10, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC | JEFF ZREBIEC,SUN REPORTER

They needed something to break them out of their losing ways - a key defensive play, a clutch hit, a key strikeout from a struggling reliever.

Eventually it took all three and also four home runs to end a frustrating five-game skid, as third baseman Melvin Mora's RBI single in the eighth inning gave the Orioles a come-from-behind 7-6 victory over the Detroit Tigers before 16,566 last night at Camden Yards.

Mora laced Fernando Rodney's two-strike changeup, scoring pinch runner Luis Terrero for the winning run. Mora raised his right hand in the air and pointed to the Orioles' dugout as soon as the ball dropped in left field.

Chris Ray came on in the ninth to record his eighth save, and first since April 28, giving the Orioles (15-19) their first win since May 2.

Mora, Jay Gibbons, Jeff Conine and Miguel Tejada hit home runs for the Orioles, who came back from a 5-2 fifth-inning deficit after starter Daniel Cabrera resorted back to his wild ways.

The Orioles tied the game at 7 with two bases-empty homers off Rodney in the seventh. Mora hit the first to dead center, and Gibbons went the opposite way, crashing his ninth home run into the left-center-field seats to tie the game at 6.

LaTroy Hawkins struggled through the eighth, but he struck out Ivan Rodriguez with men on second and third and two outs.

The Orioles cut the Tigers' lead to 5-4 on a two-run home run into the left-field seats by Conine in the sixth. They had two chances to tie the game, but Tigers reliever Jason Grilli struck out Luis Matos and got Chris Gomez to ground out, stranding Kevin Millar at second base.

Tigers right fielder Magglio Ordonez ripped his 10th home run in the seventh, victimizing reliever Todd Williams, with a 410-foot shot into the Orioles' bullpen. Only an outstanding catch from Corey Patterson, who crashed into the center-field wall snagging Craig Monroe's drive, saved the Orioles from more damage in the inning.

Dominant at times early, Cabrera eventually morphed into the pitcher that he was in his first two outings, when he couldn't consistently find the strike zone. The Tigers tied the game with two runs in the fourth on Omar Infante's triple, and then added three more in the fifth.

Shortstop Carlos Guillen cleared the loaded bases with a double over Matos and off the base of the left-field wall to give the Tigers a 5-2 lead. Two of the three men that scored on Guillen's hit reached on walks. Cabrera, who had walked only three batters combined in his previous two starts spanning 14 innings, walked seven through five, offsetting his six strikeouts.

Cabrera's progress has been mostly lost amid the Orioles myriad of problems recently. But in three of his past four outings before last night, he's been the pitcher that team officials expected him to be.

He had gone seven innings in three of his past four outings, failing to do so only on April 22 in New York when he attributed his struggles to a failure to grip the baseball because of the cold and wet conditions.

Last week against Texas, he allowed just one run and six hits through seven innings, though he got a no-decision.

Last night, Tejada had given the Orioles a 2-0 lead with a two- run home run, a 400-foot shot to dead center field in the third off Detroit starter Nate Robertson. It was Tejada's ninth home run of the season.

But Cabrera issued a one-out walk to Carlos Guillen in the fourth and after striking out Dmitri Young with a 98-mph fastball on the outside corner, he walked Monroe. With men on first and third, Infante sent a liner down the right-field line. Gib bons" dive came up short and the ball rolled to the wall, allowing both runners to score.

Things would get only worse for him in the fifth.

The Orioles were thrilled to return home after a road trip in which they lost all five games, their first winless multi-city trip since late in the 2002 season. But the presence of a lefty on the mound for Detroit wasn't exactly a welcome sight.

With a loss to lightly regarded Boston southpaw Lenny DiNardo on Sunday, the Orioles fell to 1-9 in games started by an opposing left-hander. They also entered last night with a .200 batting average against lefties, the worst mark in the American League.

Players seem flabbergasted by the lack of success against lefties, and an explanation seemed as elusive as a victory these days for the Orioles. Mora went as far as to suggest that maybe the club should add another left-handed coach to throw batting practice. Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said that he thought the idea was probably a little extreme.

"I think we have good enough hitters that we're kind of stacked for left-handed pitching." said Perlozzo. "They've [hit lefties] all their lives, and just for some reason, we're not. I wish I could put my finger on it. I think the lineup is built to do a lot better against left-handed pitching and we're just not getting that done." jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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