Complete control

Cabrera goes distance in 3-hitter, helping O's end 5-game skid

Orioles 4 Royals 1

May 09, 2008|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,Sun reporter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley called it the best he has ever seen Daniel Cabrera pitch.

Statistically, Cabrera's complete-game, three-hitter against the Kansas City Royals last night -- which gave the Orioles a 4-1 win and ended their five-game losing streak -- was on par with Cabrera's memorable one-hitter at Yankee Stadium in 2006.

But the enigmatic right-hander, who is enjoying the best ride of his five-year career, won't get caught up in superlatives or comparisons.

"That was back in the day. That's a long time [ago]," Cabrera, 26, said about his last complete-game victory, Sept. 28, 2006, against the Yankees. "I am trying to remember nothing in the past. I am just keeping forward from here, man."

His past includes an 18-loss season in 2007 and continual rumblings about untapped potential.

This season includes six straight quality starts, his best stretch ever. But none of his recent outings compares with last evening at Kauffman Stadium, when he pounded his sinker in the strike zone against the lowest-scoring club in the American League.

"I've always had the [sinker]," Cabrera said. "I've been scared of throwing it too many times. Now, [pitching coach Rick] Kranitz told me to keep throwing [it] and you'll see good results. So far, that's what it is."

Cabrera (3-1), who has struggled with command much of his career, threw 116 pitches yesterday, including 76 strikes. He struck out seven and walked only one, but, perhaps more important, 18 outs were ground balls.

"He's funky," Royals catcher John Buck said. "Ankles and elbows going everywhere, and that sinking fastball is going everywhere, too."

After allowing a two-out double in the first, Cabrera retired 12 straight batters before Ross Gload hit a two-out single in the fifth inning. Gload eventually scored Kansas City's lone run on a flare to right by Tony Pena Jr.

It was typical dominance against the Royals (15-19) for Cabrera, who is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA in seven games against Kansas City. The Orioles have won 10 straight against the Royals.

Cabrera finished with 13 straight outs, including back-to-back strikeouts in the ninth on 94-mph fastballs.

"I don't even know who the guy is," said Freddie Bynum, who was recalled yesterday from an injury rehabilitation assignment at Double-A Bowie and started at shortstop. "When I was rehabbing I watched a lot of the games, and he is a totally different person from last year. It's like he's growing up. He's maturing."

Right fielder Nick Markakis provided the offense for the Orioles (17-18) by scoring on a wild pitch in the first inning and hitting a three-run homer in the third against Royals rookie Luke Hochevar (2-2).

Amazingly, it was the first home run hit by the Orioles this season that scored three or more runs. Of the Orioles' first 32 this season, 23 were solo shots and nine were two-run homers.

The last time they had a similar streak to start the year was the woeful 1988 season, when they went 34 games without a three-run homer or grand slam, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

"I think it is good for our team," Trembley said of finally hitting a three-run homer. "And I think anything we can do to kind of silence all the nonsense, I think that is great."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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