Early Lead Holds Up For Orioles

They Score Five Runs In First Three Innings

Hernandez Turns In Solid Performance

July 04, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. - - There is nothing temporary about David Hernandez's spot in the Orioles' rotation anymore.

With Koji Uehara not returning until at least September if at all this season, Hernandez will get the ball every five days and an opportunity to show he belongs in the organization's future plans.

Pitching with confidence and poise at a place where his team rarely wins, Hernandez provided a much-needed quality start in the Orioles' 6-4 victory over the Angels in front of an announced 39,104 at Angel Stadium.

It was just the Orioles' eighth victory in their past 29 games at Angel Stadium, and their first win over the Angels in four tries this season.

Hernandez, who evened his record at 2-2 with the victory in his fourth major league start, allowed three runs on six hits and two walks over a career-high 6 2/3 innings.

He was sailing along until the sixth, when Kendry Morales connected for a two-out, two-run homer to cut the Orioles' lead to 6-3.

Pitching in front of a vocal section of family and friends, the native Californian then retired Maicer Izturis to end the sixth and got two quick outs in the seventh before a walk to Chone Figgins ended his outing.

Jim Johnson relieved him and got out of the seventh when catcher Matt Wieters threw out Figgins trying to steal. The Angels trimmed the Orioles' lead to 6-4 on in Vladimir Guerrero's RBI groundout in the eighth before retiring Morales on a fly ball to deep center to end the eighth.

George Sherrill then pitched the ninth for his 18th save.

It certainly didn't hurt that the Orioles gave Hernandez a 6-0 lead by the top of the fourth inning.

Aubrey Huff was largely responsible for that, connecting for a three-run homer off Angels starter Ervin Santana in the third inning.

Luke Scott also hit a two-run double and Nick Markakis an RBI single.

The Orioles had 10 hits and 18 total base runners but squandered several opportunities to add on runs that would have made for a more drama-free evening.

They had runners on first and second in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings and couldn't score a run.

Santana was making his first start since June 11 after he was put on the disabled list with discomfort in his right triceps. It was his second stint on the DL this season

In three of his previous four outings, Santana, a one-time trade target of the Orioles when they were listening to offers for shortstop Miguel Tejada, had allowed six earned runs or more, leaving his ERA at a bloated 7.47 heading into Friday night.

His struggles continued in the early innings as an Orioles team that has been scuffling to get big hits jumped on him for two runs in the first and three more in the third.

Santana's defense let him down in the first.

After hitting Adam Jones with one out, Santana got Markakis to hit a hard grounder right at shortstop Erick Aybar for what should have been a double play. Aybar booted it, putting runners on first and second with one out.

Huff followed with a single to load the bases, and after Nolan Reimold struck out, Scott drove a double over the head of right fielder Bobby Abreu to score two runs.

In the third, Jones led off with a sharp single, and then Markakis hit a double to left center field. Santana then hung a 2-1 off-speed pitch that Huff pounded over the right-field wall for a three-run homer. Huff's 11th home run of the season gave the Orioles a 5-0 lead.

That was extended to 6-0 in the fourth when Brian Roberts, who had lined a one-out single for just his third hit in his past 30 at-bats, scored all the way from first on Markakis' single to center. Roberts narrowly avoided catcher Jeff Mathis and touched home plate before the tag.

Given a large margin of error, Hernandez got out of a jam in the third after back-to-back singles by Izturis and Mathis and a groundout by Aybar put men on first and third with one out.

The Orioles starter got Figgins to pop out in the infield and Abreu to ground out.

He was unable to do the same in the fourth, though he did limit the damage. Juan Rivera hit a two-out double, and Morales walked on four pitches.

Izturis then connected for a double, the ball barely dropping in front of diving left fielder Reimold. Rivera scored, but Morales and Izturis were stranded when Hernandez retired Jeff Mathis on a groundout to third baseman Melvin Mora.


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