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Bell's two homers helps O's sock it to Lee

Bell's two homers helps O's sock it to Lee

BALTIMORE -- At one point early Saturday evening, Baltimore third baseman Josh Bell turned to teammate Jake Fox and asked him if it was all right to open his eyes now. The day had transformed into a dream for the rookie, one that Bell will never forget.

Bell hit his first Major League homer and quickly added his second as the Orioles got three jacks in one inning and four overall to knock around Texas ace Cliff Lee en route to an 8-6 victory before 23,041 at Camden Yards.

The rookie crushed a two-run homer in the third and a three-run shot that capped a five-run fourth inning in which the Orioles (44-80) took a 7-2 lead. He nearly hit another on this third time up, lining a ball off the right-field fence that missed being a home run by a few feet. Bell finished the day 3-for-4 with five RBIs -- big numbers against one of the baseball's top pitchers.

"It was the Josh Bell show," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "It was impressive. It was great to see a smile on his face. He's had some good at-bats. When he collides with the ball, good things happen."

Bell has worked hard on his hitting since taking over the third-base job a few weeks ago after the Orioles dealt Miguel Tejada to San Diego, and he's struggled at times. Bell is hitting .244 in 78 at-bats, but he has struck out 28 times and walked just twice.

But he's been slowly finding his way, going 10-for-30 (.333) in his last nine games. Hitting coach Terry Crowley and Bell are working together to solve some of the mysteries of hitting in the Major Leagues, and Bell finally showed some of the power the Orioles have been hoping to see.

"It feels great -- definitely a confidence-booster," Bell said. "I'm feeling great at third base and after today, I'll just try to take it over to the rest of the season."

Bell's power display led the way for the Orioles' second homer barrage against Lee, a pitcher who usually doesn't give up much of anything -- except against Baltimore.

The Orioles hit three homers in their last matchup with Lee (10-7), a 6-1 victory in Texas last month, and four more in this game. They've banged out seven of the 13 homers Lee has allowed this season. Lee gave up eight runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings, his shortest outing this season. Also, the four homers allowed is a career high.

"Both times I was missing out over the plate," Lee said. "If I make my pitches and keep the ball down a little more, it's probably a different result. Missing up out over the plate, those things are going to happen."

And they happened often. Bell's two-run homer gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Texas (68-54) tied the game in the fourth before Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott hit back-to-back solo shots in the bottom half. Bell added his three-run blast later in the inning for the 7-2 lead.

That gave Orioles starter Brad Bergesen (5-9) enough support. He gave up five runs on nine hits in seven innings. The right-hander appears to be coming around after a shaky first half and has gone into the sixth inning in each of his last five starts.

Bergesen gave up a two-run homer to Josh Hamilton in the seventh that cut the Orioles' lead to 8-5. Michael Gonzalez allowed a run in the eighth, and Koji Uehara pitched a scoreless ninth for the first save of his career.

"I feel great," Bergesen said. "I felt like I just battled all day -- didn't necessarily have my best stuff, but tried to go as deep as I could. We were able to score a lot of runs today so it was huge for us."

Bell helped make it big. He became the fourth Orioles rookie to hit his first Major League home run as part of a multihomer game. Both of his jacks were long shots to center field. His third hit just missed being a home run by a few feet and left Bell with a long single.

That's why Bell wound up making a nice business deal at game's end. The team found the two fans who caught the ball, and Bell gave each a signed bat and ball. In fact, the two fans who caught the ball were sitting right next to each other, making it easier to get Bell those souvenirs.

For Josh Bell, it was that kind of day.

"This is something I'll remember for the rest of my life," Bell said.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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