Scott's slam lifts O's to comeback win

Orioles 6, Mariners 5

Designated hitter hits bases-loaded homer in bottom of the eighth

May 13, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

When things are going well, when he is on one of his scalding hot streaks, Orioles designated hitter Luke Scott is a bouncing, smiling, chattering embodiment of baseball joy.

Those times have been rare this season, as the Orioles kept losing and Scott kept floundering offensively, struggling to get his average above .200. Scott, the club's home run leader in 2009, has had such a rough start that he has been mentioned as a potential candidate for demotion to the minors.

So when Scott hit a pitch from Brandon League just barely over the left-field wall in the eighth inning Thursday afternoon for a grand slam that capped the Orioles' 6-5 comeback victory over the Seattle Mariners, Scott let loose.

He yelled and pumped his fist rounding first base like a Little Leaguer getting his first hit.

"Moments like this," Scott said. "It kind of makes you feel like you can breathe again."

Scott was so excited that he initially didn't realize that the Orioles' runners had held up to make sure the ball had cleared the glove of leaping Mariners left fielder Michael Saunders. A few more steps and the gleeful Scott might have run headfirst into Ty Wigginton near second base.

"Coming up on both of them, I saw [ Adam Jones] coming back and I had my fist up and was like, 'Yeahhhh.' And then I was like, 'Whoa, dude, is my mind playing tricks on me or something?' " Scott said he thought when he saw the runners stop. "But nope, I just hope it's real."

Saunders thought he had caught the ball, but two fans in the front row also lunged for it and the ball landed in the seats.

"A fan with a glove hit my glove away and beat me to the baseball," Saunders said. "I had a bead on it, but when I jumped up and hit the wall, I came down empty-handed. I at least thought I would be able to touch it. I don't think I did. I think the fan beat me to it."

The umpiring crew signaled homer, and the Orioles dugout exploded as Scott chugged around the bases smiling.

"I don't think anyone hits happier home runs than Luke Scott," said starter Kevin Millwood, who was on the hook for the loss before the Orioles' five-run eighth. "He gets pretty excited."

It was Scott's second career grand slam, sixth homer of the season and second in two games. It was also the second homer of the inning against League (3-3), who entered a 5-1 game and immediately surrendered Corey Patterson's first homer this season.

Until the eighth, the Orioles' offense was again impotent, getting just one run and five hits against Seattle ace Felix Hernandez, who struck out seven and walked two in seven innings but left after throwing 105 pitches.

"For us, Hernandez is better than just good. The guy is special in his ability to throw his other pitches across the plate for strikes when he's throwing 96 mph fastballs," Trembley said. "Best thing we could do was try to get his pitch count up and get him out of the game, and we did. The end of the game speaks for itself, and, obviously, we're very happy. This one was long coming for us."

It marked the second straight home series win for the Orioles (11-24), but, in true 2010 fashion, it couldn't end without a little more drama tossed in for the announced 20,938 in attendance.

Closer Alfredo Simon replaced Mark Hendrickson (1-0) in the ninth and, after getting the first out, he hit a batter, walked another and struck out a third. With two outs and two on in a one-run game, Simon had to face Orioles killer Ichiro Suzuki, who had already homered in the game and has the highest lifetime average (.372) against the Orioles of any opponent with at least 150 plate appearances.

Suzuki stroked a single to left that Patterson, who was playing shallow and shading toward the line, grabbed. He came up throwing while Josh Wilson attempted to score from second.

Orioles catcher Matt Wieters grabbed the throw on the right side of home plate and spun to his left, blocking the plate while simultaneously tagging a sliding Wilson for the game's final out.

"I kind of anticipated what I was going to do before the play happened, and that's what happened," Patterson said. "[The throw] was a little off line, but Matt made a good play to stretch it across and make the tag. "

Simon picked up his fifth save and Millwood avoided his fifth loss, even though he allowed three homers and yielded a season-high five earned runs.

"It was a good win for the team," Millwood said. "Those guys came through and put a big rally on the board there in the eighth. I am definitely not happy with my performance, but I am happy that the team got a win.

"That is what it is all about."

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/danconnollysun


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