O's ignore odds, win

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Leicester, reserves shine in shutout victory over Angels

Orioles 3 Angels 0

September 14, 2007|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN REPORTER

Music blared from the speakers at Camden Yards yesterday while the Orioles gathered to stretch along the right-field line, but manager Dave Trembley wasn't in a partying mood. He marched over to the group, summoned his coaches to join him and conducted a meeting - held with no background noise once the tunes were nixed - like none other this season.

Trembley wanted to be heard, which meant no heavy metal until after his five minutes were up. He informed the team of his three-game suspension, which he immediately began serving, and implored them to keep working hard and not use unfavorable calls from the umpires, which seem to strike with regularity, as an excuse.

Then he sent out a lineup that was missing some regulars for reasons that had nothing to do with injuries, and a pitcher making only his third career start. And the Orioles won. They made changes that ranged from their leadoff hitter to their manager, and they won.

It almost defied logic, but they weren't going to question a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels before an announced 16,359 that came at the expense of 16-game winner John Lackey and seemed impossible to execute on paper, but actually began to take shape before batting practice.

One night after appearing lethargic in a 12-run loss that included Trembley's ejection and subsequent suspension for an animated display that the commissioner's office deemed inappropriate, the Orioles underwent a makeover of sorts.

Trembley benched Brian Roberts, Miguel Tejada and Ramon Hernandez. He rested Melvin Mora, who received treatment for a sore back. And he put his trust in his reserves and pitcher Jon Leicester, who began the season in the minors and usually comes out of the bullpen.

"It was a blast," said Brandon Fahey, who replaced Roberts at second base and scored a run. "All the backup guys, we're all out there and we all played hard. It was a blast, maybe the most fun game of my life."

With two straight wins, Leicester (2-1) might qualify as the stopper in a rotation that's been torn apart by injuries and also could lose Daniel Cabrera, who is appealing his six-game suspension for throwing at Boston Red Sox rookie Dustin Pedroia last Friday and almost inciting a brawl. Leicester blanked the Angels over 5 2/3 innings, allowing four hits and leaving with two runners on base.

Jim Hoey needed one pitch to get the final out after being summoned by bench coach Tom Trebelhorn, who's in charge during Trembley's suspension. He also tossed a perfect seventh, and Jamie Walker stranded a runner in the eighth after replacing Chad Bradford. Walker handled the ninth inning for his fifth save, and the Orioles had their first shutout since Aug. 14.

"Pitching sets the tone and [Trembley] gave us the blueprint - Leicester six, Hoey one, Bradford or Walker one, depending on who is coming up. Whoever was left pitches the ninth," Trebelhorn said. "I asked him, `Why the hell haven't you planned like this before because it worked out pretty well.'"

After committing two errors in the first inning of Wednesday's loss, the Orioles were much sharper defensively last night - and spectacular at times - with Fahey at second and rookie Luis Hernandez at shortstop. Hernandez, called up twice from the minors this season, also had three hits.

Scott Moore, replacing Mora at third base, doubled in the second inning to score Jay Payton and hit a sacrifice fly in the sixth.

Two of the four hits off Leicester came in the first inning, when he stranded Orlando Cabrera and Vladimir Guerrero. He retired 11 of 12 batters before Howie Kendrick opened the fifth with a single.

"I'm having a good time out there and trying to keep our team in the game," Leicester said. "I was just trying to get them to swing the bat early, and the defense was amazing for me."

Garret Anderson doubled and Maicer Izturis walked with two outs in the sixth, and Leicester received a loud ovation as he walked to the dugout.

"We haven't had a lot of baseball games in our facility lately. This was truly a baseball game," Trebelhorn said after the Orioles' fourth win in 22 games. "It was a lot of fun for everybody on our side."

Asked before the game to discuss the lineup changes, Trembley said, "Yeah, hopefully it will work."

Asked for his motivation in making the moves, he replied, "Win a game."

It worked. The Orioles won a game.

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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