Boston makes it a dirty dozen

Pounding R. Lopez, Red Sox extend streak over O's behind Beckett

Red Sox 11 Orioles 1

May 16, 2006|By JEFF ZREBIEC

They weren't playing Kansas City anymore. That was obvious last night to Rodrigo Lopez, who paid for his every mistake; to the Orioles lineup, which found base hits difficult to come by; and to the home fans, who had little to cheer about and would have been likely drowned out by Boston Red Sox supporters anyway.

The latest contest between the Orioles and Red Sox went much like the first six this season. It was a total mismatch. Red Sox starter Josh Beckett overwhelmed Orioles hitters, Lopez was pounded yet again in his worst performance of a highly disappointing season and the Orioles fell, 11-1, before 25,607 at Camden Yards.

A day after a four-run ninth gave the Orioles an emotional victory over the Royals and a three-game sweep, that momentum disappeared like Lopez's reputation as the Red Sox's arch nemesis.

Still winless since Opening Day, Lopez, whose 10 wins against Boston since 2002 are the most by any opponent in that span, surrendered 10 hits, four walks and eight earned runs, his ERA ballooning to 7.86.

Lopez (1-6) got a mixture of boos and cheers, the latter obviously resonating from Boston's boisterous fan base, after he gave the ball to manager Sam Perlozzo and walked off the mound in the fifth, following Mike Lowell's two-run triple with no outs that gave the Red Sox an 8-1 lead.

Perlozzo also appeared to exchange words with a fan on his way back to the dugout before security intervened. Perhaps it was a byproduct of Perlozzo's frustration from the Orioles' inability to beat the Red Sox (22-14).

"I really have confidence in Rodrigo." Perlozzo said. "I just feel like's he's going to turn this around. I hope it's sooner rather than later."

"It's been tough." Lopez said. "Tonight wasn't a good night with my location. It was just one of those days. With the stretch that I've been on, it just looks worse."

The Orioles (18-21) have now lost 12 straight to the Red Sox, Boston's longest-ever win streak over Baltimore since the franchise moved here from St. Louis in 1954. The stretch dates back to Sept. 3 last year.

It would be easy to disregard some of last year's results be cause of the attrition that occurred to the Orioles' lineup by the end of 2005, when the Red Sox started to exercise their domination over the Orioles. But in the club's seven losses to the Red Sox this season, the Orioles have been outscored 56-20.

In the past three games, the Orioles have been outscored 30-7.

"They are in our division." Perlozzo said before the game, disputing the notion that the Red Sox have gotten in his team's head. "You play them an awful lot of times and you've certainly got to beat some of the teams in your division a little bit. Sooner or later, we have to beat these guys a few times any way, unless we beat up on everybody else."

The Orioles actually held a 1-0 lead last night on Miguel Tejada's first-inning home run off Beckett, who made his only mistake of the night. The shortstop forced a 3-2 count and then lined Beckett's 97-mph fastball just over the left-field wall. It was Tejada's 12th home run and his third straight game with a homer.

But after Tejada's homer, Beckett retired 13 straight Orioles until Javy Lopez dumped a single into center field to lead off the sixth. Lopez was quickly erased when rookie Nick Markakis grounded into a double play.

Beckett, who the Red Sox acquired in an offseason trade with Florida, allowed just the two hits and needed only 80 pitches (59 strikes) to navigate through seven innings. He walked none and struck out six in improving to 5-1.

Rodrigo Lopez, on the other had, threw 91 pitches in his four- plus innings, many of them getting smacked in the outfield gaps or down the line. The club's No.1 starter, who entered the season with a 10-5 record against Boston and a 3.78 ERA, dropped to 0-3 against the Red Sox this season with a 9.39 ERA. He has given up 27 hits in 15 1/3 innings against Boston in 2006.

Boston center fielder Wily Mo Pena hit a two-run homer to the opposite field in the second and Boston's deluge of offense continued. Jason Varitek and Pena had RBI singles in Boston's four-run third, and then Lowell drove Lopez from the game with his two-run triple.

Varitek hit a two-run homer and Lowell a bases-empty shot off John Halama in the ninth to complete the Red Sox scoring.

In his last three starts, Lopez has surrendered 18 earned runs in 15 2/3 innings. But with news yesterday that starter Daniel Cabrera was sent to the disabled list with a muscle strain in his throwing shoulder, the Orioles likely don't have much choice, but to keep sending Lopez out there and hope he figures it out.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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