Matusz pitches 8 scoreless innings as O's beat Rangers 4-0

August 19, 2010|By Dan Connolly | Baltimore Sun reporter

During the course of this season, Orioles rookie starter Brian Matusz has closely watched and often chatted with veteran starters Kevin Millwood and Jeremy Guthrie.

On Thursday, in a 4-0 win over the Texas Rangers, Matusz mimicked his mentors' recent performances to carve out a little team history, while one-upping each of them.

Matusz pitched eight scoreless innings and allowed just five hits and one walk to the vaunted Rangers' offense while striking out six.

He also joined Millwood and Guthrie to become the first trio of Orioles' pitchers to throw consecutive games of eight innings or more since May 2005, when Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Sidney Ponson achieved the feat. That was the only other time it happened in the 2000s for the Orioles.

While Millwood allowed one run in eight innings in a loss Tuesday to Seattle and Guthrie gave up five in a loss Wednesday to the Mariners, Matusz (5-12) picked up the win, his second in his last three decisions.

It matched a career-high for innings for Matusz, who allowed three runs in eight innings against the New York Mets on June 12.

For a while, he had to match zeroes with Texas right Colby Lewis (9-10), who didn't yield a run until the seventh, when the Orioles scored four times.

Corey Patterson, starting for the first time since Aug. 10, and Nick Markakis each had RBI singles and Brian Roberts delivered a two-run double that slipped past a diving Brandon Boggs in right field.

The Orioles (43-79) didn't need any more run support for Matusz and reliever Koji Uehara (one scoreless inning).

There may not have been many offensive fireworks, but there was a bit of spark in the top of the sixth near third base.

Locked in a scoreless tie, Rangers' second baseman Andres Blanco hit a leadoff double to right and attempted to stretch it into a triple. Markakis barehanded the carom, threw a strike to Roberts who in turn threw the ball to Ty Wigginton at third.

Wigginton straddled the bag, blocking the base adeptly with his right leg while tagging out Blanco.

An excellent play by Wigginton. But Blanco, who came holding his left hand, wasn't very happy.

After being called out by third base umpire Manny Gonzalez, Blanco began chirping at Wigginton, presumably for the forceful block. The spirited Wigginton walked toward Blanco, telling him loudly to go back to the dugout and lifting his right hand in the air to emphasize the out.

Rangers' third base coach Dave Anderson quickly got between them and ushered Blanco toward the visiting dugout while Gonzalez walked Wigginton over toward shortstop.

Meanwhile a few players and coaches spilled onto the field from the dugouts and several Orioles' relievers walked out of the bullpen and onto the outfield grass but ventured no further.

Order was restored quickly and  two batters later  Cesar Izturis made a great diving play to end the top of the sixth. With two outs in the bottom of the inning, Wigginton doubled off the right-field scoreboard, igniting an approving roar from the announced crowd of 14,635.

He was stranded at second when Luke Scott hit a one-hop liner to first for the final out. It was the second best opportunity the Orioles had to score in the first six innings against Lewis.

In the third, the Orioles loaded the bases with one out but Lewis, who had allowed just one earned run in three of his past four starts, struck out both Roberts and Markakis. Lewis ultimately was charged with four runs and nine hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Matusz, who was chased in a five-run fourth inning in his last start, a 7-3 loss at Tampa on Saturday, rebounded impressively.

With the help of several strong defensive plays, Matusz allowed two baserunners on at the same time just once. And that second-inning threat was wiped out by one of two Orioles' double plays.

The win gave the Orioles a 5-2 lead in the season series against the American League West-leading Rangers (67-53) and guaranteed at least a tie with three games to play.

It was the first game between the two at Camden Yards this year. They've played six times at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, with the Rangers sweeping a two-game series in May and the Orioles winning all four to close the first half in July.

Dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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