O's sparkle on 4th

Makeshift offense gives Guthrie early 7-run lead

Orioles 10 Rangers 4

July 05, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

Jeremy Guthrie says it doesn't matter, as long as the result is an Orioles victory. The Orioles right-hander is content working with a big lead and with the luxury of knowing that one mistake is not going to cost him a win. But there is something about a tense pitcher's duel that Guthrie has learned to enjoy, and he had had plenty of experience over the past three months in such situations.

The Orioles, however, would prefer games like yesterday's 10-4 victory over the Texas Rangers in front of an announced holiday crowd of 21,363 at Camden Yards every time.

They pounded Texas starter Vicente Padilla for eight runs in the first three innings, handing Guthrie a seven-run lead in the series opener.

The combination of timely hitting and quality starting pitching pushed the Orioles (44-41) into a virtual third-place tie with the New York Yankees in the American League East.

"The team is hitting the ball very well," said Guthrie (5-7), who allowed four runs in 6 1/3 innings en route to his fifth win. "It seems like they're always putting some runs on the board and giving us a chance to win."

On a day when the team's biggest catalyst, Brian Roberts, was a late scratch from the lineup because of a bout with the flu, the Orioles' No. 7 through 9 hitters - Kevin Millar, Adam Jones and Brandon Fahey - were a combined 6-for-11 with five RBIs and six runs.

Leadoff man Freddie Bynum, who learned an hour before the game that he would replace Roberts in the lineup, tied a career high with three RBIs.

"B-Rob had warned me," said Bynum, who entered the game with just five RBIs. "So I prepared myself, and I was ready. It just shows you how crazy the game is."

Bynum capped the Orioles' four-run third inning with a two-run single to center field. The ball ricocheted off Padilla's right hand before bouncing into center field. Padilla exited after the at-bat with what was diagnosed as a bruised thumb, but it's not as if he was settling in for a long stay in the game anyway.

When he walked off the mound with two outs in the third, the Rangers trailed 8-1, and Padilla had already allowed eight runs, nine hits and two walks and had thrown 74 pitches.

"We got production from the bottom of the lineup," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "Not only did those guys give us a lift, they rolled the lineup over and let those guys in the middle get extra at-bats. We didn't miss very many pitches today."

It is the third time in the past six games started by Guthrie that the Orioles have scored seven or more runs. That is significant only because he struggled to get run support for the first three months. In Guthrie's seven losses, the Orioles have scored a total of 10 runs.

He has held the opposition to two earned runs or fewer in 10 of his 19 starts, but he has only five wins to show for it.

Yesterday, however, the Orioles gave him a three-run lead before the third inning and a seven-run bulge before the fourth.

Guthrie allowed an RBI double to Milton Bradley in the first and settled down to toss five straight scoreless innings heading into the seventh.

Guthrie said he tired in the inning, allowing three straight Rangers to reach, including Ian Kinsler, whose RBI single ended Guthrie's outing. Ryan Bukvich came in and allowed two inherited runners to score.

"I'm used to pitching in games that are tight against some opponents that are pretty good," Guthrie said. "I don't feel any different. I enjoy pitching in games. I've always said that. I enjoy pitching in games that are 1-0 or 1-1, and I enjoy pitching if we're ahead 8-1. I have the same focus either way."jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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