Wigginton propels O's to sweep

His double lifts team to first sweep of Boston since 1998

  • Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, center, is greeted at home plate with high-fives from Adam Jones, left, and Nick Markakis after his three-run homer in the fifth inning against Boston.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, center, is greeted at home plate… (Baltimore Sun photo by Kenneth…)
May 02, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

Ty Wigginton saw them coming, so the 230-pound infielder gave a little head fake to the right, broke left and then sprinted toward the dugout, leaving teammates in his wake and avoiding the customary pounding of the player who just got the game-winning hit.

"Did you notice nobody could catch me?" Wigginton said after his 10th-inning double off Jonathan Papelbon scored Nick Markakis from second and delivered the Orioles a 3-2 victory that secured a three-game sweep of the Boston Red Sox in front of an announced 34,255 at Camden Yards.

"I think I even gave them a little [ Deion Sanders] into the dugout. Once I started high-stepping, they weren't going to catch me."

Separating themselves from a brutal start won't be as easy for these Orioles, but they at least showed signs of turning things around during a homestand when most expected the club to further bury itself in the basement of the American League East.

They finished the stretch against the Red Sox and New York Yankees with a 4-2 record, and they've now beaten the Red Sox (11-14) four straight times after defeating them only twice in 18 tries last season.

The three-game sweep was also their first over Boston at home since Sept. 2-4, 1974, though the Orioles swept a four-game set against the Red Sox on July 9-12, 1998, at Camden Yards. They also hadn't won four straight games against Boston since 2004.

"It's just great for the team, individuals who have gone through a lot of pain and [ridicule] for 30 days," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose 7-18 team begins a three-game road series against the Yankees on Monday night. "You can never let it get the best of you. You've got to rise above it; you've got to take the good with the bad. We'll take the good this weekend. It feels real good. It feels tremendous, special. It doesn't come easy. All three games, they didn't give it to us. We had to beat them. We beat them, and they're a good team."

The Orioles did it against one of the game's best relievers in Papelbon, who entered the game in the ninth inning and stranded Matt Wieters after his pinch-hit, one-out double.

Leading off the 10th, Markakis, who went 7-for-12 in the series with a homer, five RBIs and five runs, fell behind 1-2 but worked an eight-pitch walk. He then moved to second when Papelbon (1-2) made an errant throw to first base.

Wigginton, who was asked to bunt with runners on first and second and no outs and the score tied in the eighth inning, fouled off five straight offerings from Papelbon before slamming a pitch into left-center field. Red Sox center fielder Darnell McDonald gave chase, but he had no chance to make the catch.

"Wigginton … said, 'I didn't know if you were going to give me the bunt sign again or not,' " Trembley said. "I said, 'No, once was enough.' He showed me he could bunt, so I don't need to see it anymore. I said it this morning, he's been steady, and that's what he showed today."

The Orioles had other heroes. In a duel with Red Sox ace right-hander Josh Beckett, Kevin Millwood authored another gritty performance, allowing just two solo homers over eight innings on a day the bullpen badly needed a break. He didn't factor in the decision and remains winless in six starts despite a 3.15 ERA, but left fielder Nolan Reimold made sure that the veteran righty didn't get a loss.

Reimold fired a perfect throw to catcher Craig Tatum to cut down Jason Varitek, who was trying to score from second on Dustin Pedroia's single, to end the eighth inning and keep the score tied.

Left-handed reliever Will Ohman pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out the side after a leadoff single by J.D. Drew. With two outs, a runner on and right-handed-hitting Adrian Beltre at the plate, Trembley came to the mound, but instead of yanking Ohman and bringing in righty Matt Albers, the Orioles manager delivered a quick message and then returned to the dugout.

"Get this [son of a gun] out," Trembley said.

Ohman responded by striking out Beltre with what Trembley described as "power stuff — the best fastball I've seen him have, and he had a put-away slider."

Asked whether he thought he was going to come out, Ohman said: "I didn't know, but I was ready to plead my case. I don't think you're going to see any ballplayer, any red-blooded male, that is going to say, 'I want to plop down; take me out because I don't want to face this guy.' To get the opportunity and to get the vote of confidence means a lot. You always want to test yourself."

Albers (2-3) then pitched a scoreless 10th, getting a key double-play ball to put himself in position for his second victory in three days.

Though Wigginton avoided being pummeled, he did get the celebratory pie in the face for a second straight night, courtesy of Ohman.

"I think we've got a really good team," Millwood said. "We haven't played like it. On top of being good, we're young, and we have to learn how to win. We're learning a little bit more and more every week."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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