Boston schools young O's pitcher

Red Sox 12 Orioles 1

Liz fails Fenway test, giving up 8 runs in 2 1/3

July 13, 2008|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

BOSTON - The education of young Orioles pitcher Radhames Liz continued last night, in a hostile classroom where every indiscretion found its way onto his permanent record.

The eight earned runs in 2 1/3 innings, the three walks and a hit batter, the 61 pitches. They're all in there.

Liz surrendered three home runs - including the first grand slam of Kevin Youkilis' career - during another short and volatile outing, and the Boston Red Sox coasted to a 12-1 victory at Fenway Park that made the All-Star break seem even more appealing to the Orioles, who suffered their largest margin of defeat this season.

Losing for the sixth time in seven games, the Orioles (45-47) remain tied with the Toronto Blue Jays for last place in the American League East. They escaped the cellar for a few hours, but the Red Sox shoved them back down with extreme force.

Manager Dave Trembley was ejected in the middle of the seventh for taking up Kevin Millar's argument over a called third strike. If only he could have found a way to miss the first six innings, too.

"This one was a blowout," Trembley said. "There wasn't much we could do about it."

Ramon Hernandez hit his eighth home run in the third inning, the ball clearing the last row of seats above the Green Monster. At that point, the Orioles trailed 2-1. But the Red Sox sent 12 batters to the plate in the bottom half and scored seven runs, the last charged to reliever Lance Cormier.

Liz (3-2) has allowed 12 earned runs in his past two starts totaling six innings. His ERA rose from 5.94 to 7.57 last night.

"It seems like once he gets himself in trouble, he can't get out of it," Trembley said.

Of the 16 batters Liz faced, 10 reached base. The eight earned runs tied for the second most allowed by an Orioles starter this season.

"The Red Sox made him pitch in the middle of the plate," Trembley said. "He was pitching to both sides and they weren't strikes, and they made him come with pitches down the middle."

Pitching coach Rick Kranitz visited the mound in the third inning after Mike Lowell walked with the bases loaded to force in a run. Melvin Mora called time with a 3-0 count on Youkilis and tried to calm Liz, but the pitcher served up the grand slam two pitches later for a 7-1 Boston lead.

"This is a tough place for a young guy to come in, especially when you don't have command of your pitches," Kranitz said. "They waited him out and boxed him in to some fastball counts."

A walk to Sean Casey ended Liz's night. He handed over the ball and strolled to the dugout with his head lowered. Cormier allowed three more hits, including Dustin Pedroia's two-run double.

Liz, who left the clubhouse without talking to reporters, gave up consecutive opposite-field home runs to J.D. Drew and Manny Ramirez in the first inning.

Meanwhile, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield allowed only two hits in seven innings, including Millar's single in the second. The Orioles' frustration spilled onto plate umpire Doug Eddings after Millar's strikeout in the seventh.

"I'm sure it's hard to umpire when a knuckleball guy's throwing, but Millar is a pretty good hitter," Trembley said. "When you're calling strike three on a guy that's at his shoe tops, I think you should be a little bit better than that. For me, that's really disrespecting the game."

Said Millar: "The situation in that is that we're all professionals, the umpires included. The score should never dictate your professionalism. You've still got a job to do. They're the best in the world, so they have to act that way whether the score's 1-0 or 15-0. I don't know if he had a dinner reservation or what, but to me, he's got to be professional and bear down on every pitch."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

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