Reversing course

Orioles 7 Red Sox 3

Good start, happy ending as O's halt 5-game skid

July 12, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

BOSTON - History wouldn't be repeated last night, which was the first order of business for the Orioles. Before they could rediscover their winning touch, they had to collect at least one hit.

The latest attempt to finish off an opponent would be the final maneuver.

Brian Roberts began the game with a double off Boston Red Sox rookie Clay Buchholz, who no-hit the Orioles in September in only his second major league start, and came within a home run of the cycle. His triple in the fifth inning drove in the tying run, and he later scored in a 7-3 victory at Fenway Park that halted the Orioles' losing streak at five games.

Brandon Fahey's two-out, bases-loaded single off reliever Manny Delcarmen produced two key insurance runs in the eighth inning, and the Orioles (45-46) avoided a sixth consecutive defeat, which would have been their longest stretch of the season.

Left-hander Brian Burres (7-5) won his third straight decision and became the first Orioles pitcher to reach seven victories. He also worked into the seventh inning for the first time since May 22, allowing three runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings.

"I thought he pitched with a lot more conviction," manager Dave Trembley said. "His arm speed was better. He's a whole lot better when he doesn't pitch on five days' rest. Tonight was one of those instances.

"He wasn't real happy with me the last time he pitched and I took him out [after 5 2/3 innings]. The next day he came in and talked to me about it and I said, 'Hey, you've got to start getting left-handed hitters out and not walking people at the bottom of the lineup, and you have to start putting zeros on the board. If you don't want me to take you out, keep the ball in the ballpark, pitch better and show me you belong out there.' And he did tonight."

A much-maligned bullpen covered for Burres, though not without the usual tension. Chad Bradford stranded a runner after replacing Burres, and Jim Johnson left with two outs in the ninth after an infield hit and Fahey's error. George Sherrill walked Dustin Pedroia to load the bases before striking out Kevin Youkilis for his 28th save.

Sherrill, who had four blown saves in his past 11 chances, worked with pitching coach Rick Kranitz earlier in the day to correct a flaw in his delivery that might have dated to the Pittsburgh series in the second weekend in June.

"Kranny noticed something and we fixed it," he said. "In spring training, I really worked on having my shoulder and my hip closed off when I come set. For some reason, my shoulder had drifted back open."

The Red Sox recalled Buchholz (2-4) from Triple-A Pawtucket before the game. He went on the disabled list May 13 with a broken nail on his right middle finger and was optioned at the end of the month with his ERA at 5.53. He was done last night after five innings and 107 pitches.

None of the current Orioles owned a career hit off Buchholz, who also beat them with three scoreless relief innings in September, but Roberts provided the first blemish with his leadoff double. He swiped third base and scored on a fly ball from Adam Jones. Buchholz walked three batters in the inning, including Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff back-to-back before Melvin Mora singled to increase the lead to 2-0.

Roberts also singled and stole a base in the second inning. He tripled in the fifth to bring home Fahey and tie the game at 3.

This wasn't an aberration for Roberts. He's hitting .331 with 18-multi hit games in his past 42, but he placed fourth in the voting for the final spot on the All-Star team, well behind Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria.

"I never checked," he said. "I knew I had zero chance."

Roberts scored the go-ahead run in the fifth on Aubrey Huff's sacrifice fly, his 58th RBI of the season.

"He's not going to New York as an All-Star," Trembley said of Roberts, "but he's an All-Star player for us."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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