Bergesen pitches Orioles past Angels 3-1

August 28, 2010|By Dan Connolly | Baltimore Sun reporter

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Given what he has endured this year, an injury, two demotions and an ongoing battle with consistency, Orioles right-hander Brad Bergesen isn't getting carried away with his recent run.

But, after limiting the Los Angeles Angels to four hits Friday in a 3-1 victory for his third win in four tries, Bergesen is starting to feel like the guy who had Orioles fans so excited in the first half of last season.

"I've just been battling things all year long and it has just been a rollercoaster ride. I feel like I've just tried to keep building, and put the bad starts behind me and try to focus on the good starts," said Bergesen, who is 3-0 with a 2.72 ERA in five August starts. "I've felt like I have done so this month and I just want to have that same mindset and really finish strong the rest of the year."

It was the seventh time in eight series openers under new manager Buck Showalter that the Orioles (46-83) have been victorious. And it guaranteed that Showalter, who took over on Aug. 2 with the club 0-1 in August, will have a winning first month as Orioles manager. One more win, and the Orioles will clinch their first winning August since 1997.

Friday's game, which lasted just two hours and 12 minutes, was paced by Bergesen, who has left with a tie or a lead in seven of his last eight starts.

"It's a great feeling," Bergesen (6-9) said. "To be able to have some outings like this, it's great. But at the same time you never want to get too comfortable in this game."

The night wasn't all good for the Orioles, however. Second baseman Brian Roberts, who doubled, stole third and scored a run in the first on Nick Markakis' single, left in the fourth inning with a left hip strain.

Roberts said he woke up with soreness near his hip about a week ago and it has progressively been getting worse. In the third inning Friday, Roberts swung at strike three from Angels starter Trevor Bell (1-4) and the pain intensified.

"The last swing I took, it was the first time I felt it on a swing," Roberts said. "Then I went out the very next inning to play defense and it didn't feel very good."

He was replaced in the bottom of the fourth by Julio Lugo, who moved over from third base. Josh Bell, who was supposed to get the night off, was thrust in to play third, and came up big.

The rookie, who was in a 1-for-14 slump since his two-homer game Saturday, hit a broken bat single to left to lead off the sixth. He moved to third and then Luke Scott added a two-out single that first baseman Juan Rivera couldn't handle to give the Orioles a 2-1 lead. It was one of just six hits against Bell, who pitched a career high seven innings.

But he couldn't match Bergesen, who struck out four and walked none for the first time all season. Taking away his two-hit complete game gem against the Cleveland Indians earlier this month, Bergesen arguably pitched his best game of the year Friday. He allowed just four hits through eight innings. He actually had more balks — two — than runs allowed.

On each balk — one called by home plate umpire Tony Randazzo and the other by first base ump Paul Nauert, both while Hideki Matsui was at the plate — Bergesen moved slightly, but enough that manager Buck Showalter didn't argue either call.

"The first one, I couldn't feel it. [Randazzo] said I did something, I kind of started my hand, so he saw something," Bergesen said. "The second one, I kind of felt myself [moving] and after you get one balk call, everyone is zoning in on you. You try to forget those and just keep going."

The first inning balk was costly. It allowed Howie Kendrick to score from third base to tie the score at 1-1. Bergesen's second balk allowed Torii Hunter to go from first to second, but Hunter was thrown out moments later when he tried to tag up on a fly ball to left. It was Felix Pie's sixth outfield assist of the season and third in four games.

"In the spirit of it, that's what a balk is," Showalter said. "But  I wish we would make adjustments to that rule and say if a guy is trying to deceive or do other things [than it is a balk]. But he is just barely flinching and we get a balk call. He should have had a shutout."

Hunter's was one of just two hits allowed by Bergesen after the first inning. He retired 22 of 24 after giving up two hits in the first. Bergesen induced 10 ground-ball puts, including six to shortstop Cesar Izturis.

Bergesen was helped all night long by his defense. Corey Patterson made a fantastic running grab in the right-center gap in the fifth and Bell made a great rolling stop and throw in the seventh.

"It's not always about run production, sometimes it is about run reduction," Showalter said. "And that was a great example of it."

Pitching in front of about 15 friends and family, many of whom came down from Northern California, Bergesen had 102 pitches heading into the ninth. But the Angels had the top of the order scheduled  the first four batters of the inning had the only four hits versus Bergesen on the night  so Showalter gave the ball to Koji Uehara.

Uehara retired three of the four batters he faced on fly outs to pick up his third straight save and give the Orioles their fourth straight win against the Angels (63-66).

Dan.connolly@baltsun.com

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