A fine finish

Mora's double in 8th scores winner

Orioles 6 Astros 5

June 18, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

The at-bat lasted nine pitches and ended with Melvin Mora standing on second base, pumping both fists and yelling.

On a night when Miguel Tejada returned to Camden Yards, the Houston Astros got a firsthand look at the resilience the Orioles have showed all season.

His team trailing by a run, Mora ripped a two-out, two-run double in the eighth inning off Astros closer Jose Valverde, the big hit in the Orioles' 6-5 victory before an announced 21,535 last night at Camden Yards.

"I don't care who was there," said Mora, when asked whether it felt extra sweet to get the key hit in front of his former teammate, who was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos. "Miggi was a friend of mine and a friend of everybody here. We just want to beat anybody."

It was the 20th comeback win for the Orioles (35-34) this season and the 16th time they have come back from a deficit of two runs or more to win. They have won five times when trailing after seven innings.

Last night, they trailed 5-3 after the sixth inning. Starter Garrett Olson suddenly lost his way in Houston's three-run fifth, and Matt Albers gave up a solo homer to Carlos Lee in the sixth.

"I've never been a part of anything like it," Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said. "You don't want to put yourself in that situation every single night, but we seem to."

The comeback started on Nick Markakis' solo homer on the first pitch from former Oriole Tim Byrdak in the seventh inning. That cut the Astros' lead to 5-4 and brought a familiar feeling to the Orioles' dugout.

"When Nick hit the home run, that kind of told me, `Hey we're going to do it again,' " said manager Dave Trembley, who will celebrate his one-year anniversary managing the team today. "It's going to be a different guy, but we're going to do it again. I'm in the dugout ... and there's a sense in there that they are not going to beat us.

"And then you look around this ballpark and you see all these people standing up in all these orange shirts and you're sure as [heck] you're not going to let it happen when that's going on."

The Orioles' eighth-inning rally started with Adam Jones' leadoff single. Freddie Bynum bunted him over to second base, and Doug Brocail (2-2) issued a one-out walk to Roberts.

With his team having already lost five in a row, Houston manager Cecil Cooper went to his closer. Valverde, who hadn't blown a save since April 22, struck out Markakis for the second out, and he quickly got two strikes on Mora.

However, the Orioles third baseman, who is hitting a team-high .382 with runners in scoring position, fouled off several pitches and worked the count full. He then drove Valverde's offering into right-center field. Jones and Roberts scored, giving the Orioles their first lead since the fourth inning.

With the lead, Trembley brought in closer George Sherrill, who pitched a perfect ninth for his 23rd save. Sherrill, who said his "arm was dead" after he lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday, told Trembley he felt fine and wanted the save opportunity last night. It didn't appear he would get it before the Orioles' staged another late-game rally. It made for a disappointing homecoming for Tejada, who went 0-for-3 with a walk.

"They're good," Tejada said. "They have some young talent there. And the years that I [was] here, I'm not the only one that wanted to win. Those guys want to win, too. They are the same guys."

They just are winning a lot more these days.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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