O's hold off Red Sox for extra-inning win

Baltimore takes 3-run lead into bottom of 10th, escapes with 7-6 victory

April 25, 2010|By Dan Connolly | Baltimore Sun reporter

BOSTON — Not everyone in the Orioles' clubhouse shares musical tastes, but when the country tunes blared out of Kevin Millwood's iPod on this evening after a tense, 7-6 victory over the Boston Red Sox that snapped a five-game losing streak, there were no complaints.

Anything besides the stinging silence of another crushing defeat was welcomed.

"I'm cool with it. The songs have been cracking me up, but it was good to hear," said center fielder Adam Jones, a huge fan of rap and Michael Jackson. "It's Millwood's iPod and I think we are going to go with that. It's moderate and it's talking something about love, so we're going to listen to it."

It was a veritable Woodstock lovefest for the Orioles compared to the funeral dirge of the past three weeks, a period in which they lost 16 of their first 18 games, including nine defeats by one or two runs. The Orioles (3-16) snapped their five-game losing streak and their 10-game skid to the Red Sox.

"It seems like we are always on the other end of the close ones," said starter David Hernandez, who allowed three runs in five-plus innings in a no decision. "It was just nice to be able to pull one out."

Hernandez didn't allow a run through the first five innings, but allowed a walk, two straight hits and a run before Orioles manager Dave Trembley pulled the second-year pitcher with the score tied at 1-1.

Handing the game over to the Orioles bullpen has been an adventure recently, and it was no different Sunday. Mark Hendrickson allowed both inherited runners to score and Jason Berken surrendered a RBI double to quickly put the Orioles in a 4-1 hole in the sixth.

It was the fifth time this month that the Orioles allowed at least four runs in an inning. On Sunday, though their offense struck back.

Paced by a Miguel Tejada two-run homer, the Orioles tied the game at 4-4 in the seventh, eventually pushing it into extra innings. They then took a three-run lead in the 10th on a two-run single by Matt Wieters and a RBI hit by Rhyne Hughes, who was playing in his second big-league game.

"The guys are giving every bit of effort they possibly can. To put it mildly, heartbreak does not do justice to what has been going on here," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley. "And guys are going right back the next day, the next at-bat, the next-inning and giving it all they got. So for them, for what they've been going through, with what they gave today and how they won today, it's tremendous. It says a lot about the team."

It, of course, wasn't easy. Nothing is for this team.

Closer Jim Johnson was asked to get two outs in the eighth and three more in the ninth. In the 10th, because he had thrown just 16 pitches, Trembley summoned Johnson again with a three-run lead.

Johnson, however, couldn't close it out. Trembley said his right-hander abandoned his sinker and started elevating his fastball and his secondary pitches. The result was two doubles, two singles and two runs — and only one out until he was pulled for Cla Meredith.

In 271 previous career games, Meredith had never recorded a save — the most appearances of any active reliever without a save, according to ESPN researchers. In Meredith's last outing, he faced just one batter, walked him and was removed. Today, he was being called on to get two outs, save the game and stop the Orioles' bleeding.

"I am just glad to get an opportunity to get the ball," Meredith said. "Opportunities have been pretty slim and far between so far."

He got Darnell McDonald to pop up to Wieters behind the plate and then Marco Scutaro hit a sharp liner that second baseman Ty Wigginton snagged for the final out.

Meredith pumped his fist and walked off the mound with his first save and the Orioles' first win since the previous Sunday in Oakland. It capped the brutal 10-game road trip at 2-8 and temporarily buoyed the Orioles heading into Monday's off day and Tuesday's series opener against the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

"We do have a day off, we got some music playing in here. It's a good feeling," Meredith said. "We certainly can't celebrate by any means, that's pretty bush league, but it will make the flight home a little bit better and hopefully the boys enjoy the day off (Monday)."

When the Orioles arrive at Camden Yards Tuesday, they'll still be the owners' of the majors' worst record and the keepers of the organization's worst start since 1988.

But salvaging one win in this series against the Red Sox and not having to deal with a losing streak for another 48 hours is sweet music to the Orioles.

"I feel like we needed this one," Hernandez said. "It just sets the tone for the week, basically. We are 1-0 for the week is the way I look at it."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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