Jays unknot Baez's tie

Rios' go-ahead homer in 10th sticks struggling O's pitcher with 4th loss

Blue Jays 5 Orioles 4

May 25, 2007|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun Reporter

Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo wanted to keep struggling reliever Danys Baez out of a situation like this. He also knew that he wouldn't be able to hide him forever.

So when the series finale with the Toronto Blue Jays reached the 10th inning last night and Perlozzo had already used four relievers, he finally summoned Baez, needing him to keep the game tied.

Baez retired only one batter before Perlozzo's hopes were dashed. Alex Rios deposited a pitch from Baez deep into the left-field seats, the home run giving the Blue Jays a 5-4 win over the Orioles and the series victory before an announced crowd of 15,182, many of whom booed Baez as he walked off the mound after the top of the 10th inning.

"My sinker is not working right now," said Baez (0-4), whose 1-0 sinker did nothing but stay belt high for Rios, who effortlessly slugged it for his 10th home run. "It's tough to be there [in a slump]. You've got to be perfect."

It was the fifth time in six outings that the pitcher, who was signed to a three-year, $19 million deal this offseason to be closer Chris Ray's primary setup man, has given up runs. In those outings, which span 4 1/3 innings, Baez is 0-3 and has allowed nine runs and three homers.

Perlozzo, who has vowed not to lose faith in the pitcher, acknowledged that he won't be able to use Baez in late-inning pressure situations until he gets out of his rut.

Baez also allowed a double in the inning to Lyle Overbay that just barely stayed in the park before he settled down to strike out the side.

"Hopefully, it's not a devastating thing for him," Perlozzo said. "He was middle and up on the home run and double. ... Some guys can get away with that once in a while. [Orioles starter Jeremy] Guthrie probably made about four or five or six bad pitches [last night] and got away with every one of them. When you're going bad, things happen."

Toronto closer Jeremy Accardo struck out Brian Roberts with the tying run on second in the bottom of the 10th to pick up his fifth save. The Orioles (21-26) fell back to a season-high five games under .500.

It was particularly tough loss for the Orioles to swallow for several reasons. Guthrie had another solid outing, allowing three earned runs (two on homers) in seven innings and leaving the game with a one-run lead.

Shortstop Miguel Tejada, highly criticized for his lack of power this season, gave the Orioles a 4-2 lead in the sixth inning with a three-run homer, his third home run of the season and his first in 101 at-bats.

When he made contact with Shaun Marcum's 0-1 pitch, launching a towering fly ball, Tejada leaned to his right as if he was trying to will the ball to stay fair. He also shouted at it before it finally disappeared into a row of green seats about two rows back from the wall and just inside the foul pole.

It was Tejada's first homer since April 25 - the second-longest homerless stretch of his career - and only his second extra-base hit this month.

"It's good to get a home run - not because I haven't hit a home run, but because we got the lead on that swing," Tejada said. "In that spot, you're looking to get a base hit to tie the game. I just got lucky to hit the ball out."

Frank Thomas cut the Orioles' lead to 4-3 with a bases-empty homer off Guthrie in the seventh. In the eighth, left-hander John Parrish took over and got into immediate trouble. Pinch hitter Rios started the inning with an infield single as he dribbled the ball down the third base line in front of Melvin Mora, who was playing deep.

Overbay followed with a double off Parrish, putting runners on second and third with no outs. Troy Glaus tied the game with a sacrifice fly off Scott Williamson.

The Orioles had a chance to reclaim the lead in the bottom of the inning, but Mora was thrown out at home by several steps trying to score from first on Nick Markakis' bloop double.

Third base coach Juan Samuel aggressively waved Mora home when he saw left fielder Matt Stairs dive for the ball and come up short as the ball bounced away. But Stairs retrieved it just about the same time as Mora hit third base and made a perfect throw to catcher Jason Phillips.

"Same situation, I would do it again," Samuel said. "We had the outfielders playing no double. ... I think he had to make a good throw, which he did. They executed well in that situation."

Said Mora: "He's an aggressive coach. That's the way you're supposed to play. That's the winning run right there."

Perlozzo had used Ray to pitch a perfect ninth, but didn't want to extend his closer because he had pitched the night before. Chad Bradford also was unavailable because he had thrown in four straight games. That left Perlozzo's options as Baez, Todd Williams and Brian Burres, who would have been used only in a real emergency because he is scheduled to start tomorrow.

"He's on our club, he's done very well and he's going to do very well again," Perlozzo said of Baez. "We might just have to start him a little bit earlier in the ballgame if we can. It would be nice if we could get a four- or five-run lead and let somebody pitch without any pressure. But at the same time we're battling our butts off to stay in these ballgames."


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