Scott's homer lifts Orioles to wild win

Orioles 11 Tigers 10

O's overcome 6-0 deficit in 1st

HRs in 9th, 10th spell victory

July 20, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

Luke Scott acknowledged that he probably got caught up in the moment. But after watching the Orioles come back from being six runs down before their first at-bat and then erase a one-run deficit in the ninth inning, Scott simply couldn't help himself.

So after driving Detroit Tigers reliever Freddy Dolsi's pitch onto Eutaw Street, Scott jogged around the bases, rounded third and spotted a group of jubilant Orioles awaiting him at home plate. Scott took off his helmet and bowled it toward the plate and then slid into home before he was mobbed by teammates.

Scott's blast, the last of the Orioles' season-high 17 hits, was the perfect way to cap a wild 11-10, walk-off victory before an announced 31,525 at Camden Yards.

"Anytime you hit a walk-off homer or a walk-off hit to win a game, it's a big deal, so it makes the game fun," said Scott, who has 17 home runs. "I was just so excited I couldn't even contain myself. I was just having such a good time out there, just seeing all these clowns at home plate ready to kick me and beat me up."

With the victory, the Orioles (47-49) inched out of last place in the American League East and broke a 10-game skid in one-run affairs.

With the Orioles trailing 10-9 in the ninth, catcher Ramon Hernandez tied the game with a solo home run, lining Joel Zumaya's first pitch of the bottom of the ninth inning into the left-field seats. Tigers manager Jim Leyland opted to stay with Zumaya, who dominated the Orioles in the eighth inning, rather than turn the ball over to closer Todd Jones.

"He's a tough pitcher, bro," said Hernandez, who was 2-for-3 with three RBIs. "Tonight, he was throwing 100. Since I was batting leadoff, I know I was going to get a fastball the first pitch. If I get a first pitch to hit, I was going to try to do the best I can."

Hernandez played a big role in keeping the game tied through the top of the 10th inning. With Placido Polanco on second base after a two-out double against Orioles closer George Sherrill (3-4), Gary Sheffield hit a hard single up the middle. Center fielder Adam Jones fielded it quickly and fired a one-hop throw to Hernandez at home plate. Replays showed that Hernandez tagged Polanco after his foot had touched home, though plate umpire Brian Runge called him out.

That loomed large in the bottom of the inning when Scott got all of Dolsi's 0-1 pitch, driving it 420 feet onto Eutaw Street. It was the Orioles' first walk-off homer this year, and it was celebrated with a slide home.

"He's like a little kid," Hernandez said of Scott. "He gets excited even when he gets a single. For him, he really loves the game. He'd play all day long."

Asked about Scott's reaction, Orioles manager Dave Trembley said, "I'll take it every darn night if it turns out like this."

It certainly didn't come easy. Daniel Cabrera put the Orioles in a 6-0 hole in the first inning. But the Orioles battled back, scoring six times in the third, thanks to eight hits, their highest total in an inning this year. They tacked on another run in the fourth to lead 9-7.

Cabrera allowed seven runs - six earned - and 12 baserunners over five innings. He also gave up two home runs, walked five batters and hit another, mixing in a costly error. But amazingly, when he walked off the mound the fifth inning, the Orioles had a two-run lead.

The Orioles' bullpen couldn't hold it, as all three runners Dennis Sarfate faced in the sixth reached base and scored. However, that became an afterthought, thanks to the late-game heroics by Hernandez and Scott.

"Kind of appropriate on a night when they're giving away those Orioles Magic tapes that something like this would happen," Trembley said. "People who have been watching the club all year have seen similar-type events like this. I tell you, every time it happens, it just makes you a little more proud to be around these guys because they will not quit."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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