Wieters keeps composure to help O's grab win

Wieters keeps composure to help O's grab win

DETROIT -- A couple months ago, the defensive error by catcher Matt Wieters could have spiraled into a slew of other miscues and missed opportunities for the Orioles. But not in Friday's 6-3 win over the Tigers.

Wieters missed a routine foul popup in the sixth inning and his error eventually led to the game-tying run. However, he wasn't the goat for long. In the eighth, he lined a sacrifice fly to right field that was deep enough to score a runner from third and give the Orioles the go-ahead run en route to the victory.

"In baseball you play so many games and there's so many opportunities, even in the course of a game where you can get a snowball moving one way or the other," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who has led his team to a 10-2 record in series openers since taking over the reins.

"The negativity and the positive vibe can get flowing if you just give it a chance, and don't dwell on things. Matt is one of the best you want to see with popups. I wish everybody could go back there and try to catch that ball. He's just getting a little deep on it. He knows it. The great thing about Matt, he'll make the adjustment. But you don't dwell on it. There's going to be an opportunity to make it not matter, and he got that opportunity and made it work."

The error cost starter Kevin Millwood, who leads the American League with 15 losses, a chance to chalk one up in the win column. But no matter. Millwood was just happy to see the team pull through late in the game after an outing where he said he just wasn't feeling it.

"It's just good to be able to take the lead right there," Millwood said. "They walked a guy in front of him to try and set up the double play, and he came through and drove in a run for us. You always like to see good things happen to good people. Matt is a good guy."

After Wieters missed the popup, Millwood went on to walk Johnny Damon. Then when Millwood slipped trying to deliver a pitch in the dirt to Miguel Cabrera, and the game quickly became tied at 3 after the slugger's two-run homer. Cabrera was responsible for driving in the first Tigers' run of the game, too, when he smashed a double down the left-field line.

"He's one of those guys you just can't let beat you," Millwood said of Cabrera. "He very well could be the best hitter in the game right now, all around. When guys are on base, it seems like he gets even better. He's just that guy in their lineup, right now, that you can't let beat you."

And after his homer in the second, the Orioles weren't going to mess around with Cabrera in the seventh with two outs, a runner on third and the score still knotted up.

"Matt wouldn't look over," Showalter said of his catcher. "When the inning was over I said, 'Matt what are you thinking? I didn't know how to get your attention.' He said, 'If you hadn't [issued the intentional walk], I was going to do it.'"

David Hernandez (6-8), in his first outing since Aug. 4, fanned Ryan Raburn on three straight offspeed pitches to end the inning and set the table for Wieters' shot at redemption.

"I definitely wanted to get the first out," Hernandez said. "I was just trying to go out there and not mess things up. I didn't want this to be my first outing back and get the loss. After giving up the triple I was able to get some quality pitches to some good hitters."

The bases were loaded with one out when Wieters stepped up to the plate in the eighth. The job was simple -- get a pitch over the plate good enough to drive to the outfield. Sure enough, reliever Phil Coke (7-5) gave him a fastball with the first pitch and Wieters was able to hit it deep enough.

"That's what baseball is, it's short-term memory and how quick you can forget about everything," Wieters said. "It doesn't matter if you lose a game, you have to forget about it right then. Or whether you make a bad play, it's over and done with, and you aren't going to be able to play your best if you are thinking about something else."

Jake Fox crushed a two-run homer in the fifth and added a double that led to an insurance run in the ninth. Pretty impressive considering he hadn't started a game in 13 days. Maybe it was his friends and family in the crowd that helped coax him into a big night.

"I love hitting in this ballpark," said Fox, who attended the University of Michigan. "For some reason, I've always felt like I can see the ball in this park. When you have friends and family in the stands, it always gives you a little more to play for. I always love coming back here and playing. It brings it all together."

All in all, it was a quality win for the Orioles, who improved to 4-1 on the current road trip, and look nothing like a team that owns the worst record in the AL.

"Everybody is going to make mistakes," Millwood said. "You just have to try and recover. Lately, just winning ballgames gives you some confidence and that's the biggest difference. We are playing with more confidence now."

Alex DiFilippo is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.