Big inning boosts Orioles in finale

Big inning boosts Orioles in finale

BALTIMORE -- Neither team cracked double-digits Thursday, but the Orioles and Indians remained true to their high-scoring series.

After twin routs in the first two games, Baltimore used a six-run rally to earn a 9-4 win in the finale. Both teams scored 28 runs over the last three days, but the Orioles have won three straight series and seven of their last 10 games.

The top of the batting order did most of the heavy lifting on Thursday, with Baltimore's top four hitters combining for five hits, four runs and six RBIs. Cleanup hitter Miguel Tejada had a solo homer and a two-run single, extending his team-high hitting streak to six games.

"I didn't think we were going to score eight, 10 or 18 runs a game," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "I was hoping our starting pitching would hold the opposition down a little bit more and we'd be able to scratch and scrape to get our runs. Like I've said before, we've got professional hitters all the way down [the lineup]. We just needed to get a couple of them going.

"The bottom half is starting to produce, and we already know that the top half is capable. If we continue like that, we'll cause some trouble."

Baltimore got another solid outing from southpaw starter Erik Bedard, who has earned victories in each of his first four starts. Bedard (4-0) struck out seven batters and walked two, leaving the game right after the home team's six-run rally.

The southpaw stranded runners in scoring position twice and got a key double play to end Cleveland's threat in the sixth. Bedard said it wasn't his best outing, but he was more than happy with the end result.

"I had OK stuff. I didn't feel as strong as the other games," he said. "Those [homers] -- I hung them, but they crushed them. They weren't cheap home runs."

Cleveland (9-7) was game on Thursday, owning three separate leads in the first six innings. The Indians got on the board in their first at-bat and took a 3-2 lead with a two-run homer in the fourth inning. That shot came from platoon first baseman Eduardo Perez, who was starting in place of left-handed regular Ben Broussard.

Baltimore tied the game again, but things changed for good in the sixth inning. Cleveland catcher Victor Martinez gave the road team a brief lead with his fourth homer of the season -- his third in the last three days. The Indians went into the bottom half with a 4-3 lead, but rookie starter Fausto Carmona just couldn't hold it.

Jay Gibbons started things off with a leadoff double, and Javy Lopez put the O's (10-6) ahead for good with a blast to left field. That was his first homer of the season, and his three-hit day helped raise his average more than 40 points (from .214 to .261).

"We're all motivated. We're all positive," said Lopez, extolling the virtues of his streaking team. "We help each other. If somebody's not doing it, the other one's going to back you up. That's what we've been doing for the last three or four series."

The O's kept piling on in the sixth, and Carmona followed the home run by yielding a walk and an opposite-field single. The Indians elected to intentionally walk Brian Roberts, and then Cleveland manager Eric Wedge went to his bullpen. Jason Davis came into the game and was greeted by Jeff Conine's two-run bloop single up the right-field line.

One out later, the fleet-footed Orioles attempted a double-steal. Roberts made it to third and Conine made it to second without a throw, setting the table for Tejada. The shortstop kept the rally alive with a two-run single up the middle, capping the day's scoring. Carmona (1-1) absorbed all the damage, allowing eight hits and eight earned runs.

"I think we showed a lot, battling back after the first night. That was pretty ugly," said Roberts. "We could've -- not folded, but we could've come out and played sluggish again. We battled and I think we should take some positive things from that."

"I sense that the guys are continuing to play," Perlozzo said. "They're not down. They feel like they can come back. It's not like they feel like it has to be one guy. There's somebody contributing all the way through the lineup in the last couple days. And this club kind of needs that. They need a boost from everyone in the lineup."

Baltimore went 5-2 on its homestand and will embark on a week-long road stretch through American League territory. The Orioles will head to New York for a three-game series against the Yankees, and they'll follow that up with a three-game set against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"I've gotta say that I'm proud of those guys. We continue to tell you that we've got a tough road ahead of us, and we're just going to keep going at it day by day," Perlozzo said. "We just keep battling. We know we've got some things to get in order. For us to be competing like this when we don't feel like we've got everything going for us -- it's been a tribute to the guys out there on the field."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.