O's blast out of rut

Orioles 7, Tigers 4

Mora's foul-pole shot, Scott's homers power win

July 19, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

The way things have been going for the Orioles lately, it seemed almost inevitable that the ball would go foul. Melvin Mora's towering drive hung up in the still air on a typical summer night in Baltimore and the Orioles half-expected a freak gust of wind to send it spiraling to the left of the foul pole.

However, the ball never hooked, landing on top of the 70-foot-high foul pole before bouncing into the seats. Mora's two-run, sixth-inning homer was the key swing in the Orioles' much-needed 7-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers before an announced 29,111 at steamy Camden Yards.

"For one of the few times in the last couple of weeks, we finally had a ball that bounced our way," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team won for just the second time in the past 10 games.

Luke Scott added a two-run homer in the eighth off Tigers left-hander Bobby Seay, his second of the game. Aubrey Huff also had a solo home run as Tigers pitching surrendered four homers for the first time all year.

Mora's shot was the most pivotal - it gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead - and easily the most unusual. Trembley, who has witnessed just about everything in 24 years in professional baseball, said never seen a ball hit on top of the foul pole.

Mora, who also drew a walk in front of Scott's homer and made several key defensive plays, chalked it up to divine intervention.

"I just prayed it was a homer," Mora said. "I didn't want to have to take another swing."

Mora's 13th homer of the season was the first by a right-hander against Tigers starter Armando Galarraga since the Boston Red Sox's Kevin Youkilis went deep off him twice May 7.

It held up as the game-winner, thanks to some clutch work by the Orioles' bullpen. Trembley took the ball from Jeremy Guthrie with two men on and nobody out in the seventh inning and the Orioles leading 5-4. Chad Bradford, whose prime value stems from his ability to get ground balls, induced Magglio Ordonez to hit into his second double play and then retired the dangerous Miguel Cabrera on a grounder to shortstop Brandon Fahey.

"In that situation, of course, you're trying to get out of it without allowing anybody to score," said Bradford, who lowered his ERA to 2.62. "A double play is what you're shooting for. It worked out good."

Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless eighth, surviving a balk that put a runner in scoring position, and George Sherrill, in his first appearance since throwing 2 1/3 innings in the All-Star Game, got the last three outs for his 29th save.

It made a winner of Guthrie, who allowed four earned runs and a career-high 12 hits over six innings but persevered to take his third straight decision. He improved to 6-7 and remains unbeaten since June 12.

"I actually felt it was much better than the numbers indicated," said Guthrie, who did himself a huge favor by starting a key, inning-ending double play on Ordonez with the bases loaded in the third. "I felt like I hit spots and they did everything they could with every pitch I threw up there. If I missed a spot, they hit it hard. When I hit a spot, it seemed like they were able to get it down even when it was a good pitch."

The day started with Trembley presiding over a short clubhouse meeting with the team. He wouldn't divulge the details of his message, but he did acknowledge that the team's poor base running in a one-run loss the previous night was discussed. Mora was one of the culprits, as he was thrown out at home as part of a double play.

"Mora looked pretty good running the bases tonight when he hit that home run," Trembley said. "That's a big game for us to win."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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