O's rally past Indians, enter break on up note

Orioles 5 Indians 4

July 10, 2006|By CHILDS WALKER | CHILDS WALKER,SUN REPORTER

Cleveland -- One part misjudged fly. One part grounder off the second baseman's chest. One part wild pitch.

The Orioles concocted one of their worst innings of the season yesterday in handing the Cleveland Indians a three-run lead. But the Indians tossed the gift right back, allowing the Orioles to score in the seventh and eighth innings for a come-from-behind 5-4 victory before 26,452 at Jacobs Field.

Corey Patterson, who had misread that fly ball during Cleveland's four-run second inning, scored the game-winner on a passed ball in the eighth.

"It ended up being a pretty good ballgame," manager Sam Perlozzo said. "We battled the whole time. We had that one bad inning where we should've gotten out with no runs. So you give credit to our guys, too. They battled the whole way back."

Starter Rodrigo Lopez, who allowed seven hits in five innings, saw a promising start end prematurely because of the messy second inning but was excited by the team's resilience.

"I liked this game a lot," he said. "All of the team never gave up. After we made a few errors in the second inning, we were able to stay in the game and do our job."

The Orioles' series win brought salvation to a 4-6 road trip that included some brutal lows. It was only the team's third victory in a road series all season and represented a positive end to a disappointing first half.

"We had some rough, rough losses and came right back and were resilient the next day," said Kevin Millar, who scored the tying run after a walk. "Yesterday's win was huge and today, we go down and have a couple miscues here and there and next thing you know, we come back and tie and win the game. This team's not easy to beat at home."

Lopez has endured his most trying season as an Oriole. He struggled terribly in the beginning and then seemed to find his form briefly. But his ERA has risen in recent weeks, and he allowed nine runs in a loss to the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.

Yesterday, his start unraveled in surreal fashion. The cruel thing was that he actually seemed to have good stuff.

Lopez struck out three of the first four hitters he faced, including the dangerous Travis Hafner. He then surrendered a double to Ben Broussard but appeared ready to escape unharmed when Jhonny Peralta lifted a routine fly to center.

"Actually, the first two innings, I thought he was [as] good as I've seen him for awhile," Perlozzo said. "His velocity was good. His breaking ball was sharp. He handled the big hitters."

Patterson broke in on Peralta's fly, and it floated over his head for an RBI triple. He said he simply did not see the ball off the bat.

"I rule that out as a fluke where he obviously didn't see the ball," Perlozzo said.

Lopez then allowed a walk and an RBI double to Aaron Boone. He again seemed ready to escape on a grounder by Grady Sizemore, but the ball bounded off Brian Roberts' chest and another run scored to make it 3-1. Lopez then threw a pitch low and well wide of catcher Javy Lopez, and Boone scooted home for a fourth run.

"It was kind of difficult right after that fly ball," Lopez said. "But [pitching coach] Leo [Mazzone] came out and told me I was throwing the ball good and to stay focused. ... After that, I think I just locked in on my game plan."

The Orioles scored in the first inning when Brandon Fahey singled, moved to second on a grounder and scored on a Miguel Tejada single.

Down 4-1, Javy Lopez cut the lead with a long home run to center in the fourth, and the Orioles added another run when Melvin Mora scored on a groundout by Jeff Conine in the sixth.

The Indians found their own way to hand deliver a big run in the seventh inning, when Millar walked, moved to second on a bunt, moved to third on a wild pitch by reliever Rafael Perez and scored on another wild pitch. That tied the game 4-4.

Perlozzo loved Millar's at-bat. "I think the tougher the situation for him, the tougher at-bat he puts on," he said. "You can tell he's really bearing down out there."

Patterson then reached on a two-out single in the eighth, moved to third on a single by Javy Lopez and scored when a pitch by Fausto Carmona (1-3) went by catcher Victor Martinez.

Reliever Kurt Birkins (4-1) pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing a hit and striking out one. Closer Chris Ray pitched the final 1 2/3 innings for his 22nd save. He struck out Hafner in the ninth with the tying run on first.

"That son of a gun shows up every time I don't want him to," Perlozzo said. "It's not a pretty sight, I admit."

Hafner drove the ball sharply to right but directly into Nick Markakis' glove to end the game.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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