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Cabrera in command in O's win

Cabrera in command in O's win

BALTIMORE -- Daniel Cabrera keeps growing, and so does his reputation.

The hulking right-hander gained another inch this winter and is currently listed at 6-foot-9, a stature that puts him near the top of the league's growth charts. His command has consistently lagged behind his stuff, but Cabrera exhibited more development on Monday, when he pitched into the eighth inning in a 6-2 win over Detroit.

Cabrera didn't walk anyone for the first time since June of the 2005 season. That's exactly the kind of start he needed last year, when he led the American League in walks (104) and the Major Leagues in wild pitches (17). Now, that pitcher seems to be a distant memory.

"If he trusts his stuff and his ability to get people out, then he's not afraid to throw the ball over the plate and not afraid to walk them," said manager Sam Perlozzo. "The fact that he's been able to do that is good for him. If he can put together three or four good starts together in the beginning of the season, it's hard to tell what this guy can do."

Cabrera (1-1) rarely was challenged in Baltimore's home opener, and he kept the Tigers off the bases for most of the game. Detroit (3-3) scored an isolated run on two doubles in the second inning and didn't score again until the eighth. Cabrera retired 13 of his final 17 batters, and he erased two that reached base on double plays.

The start was vaguely reminiscent of the right-hander's season finale from last year, even if the two outings bore little statistical resemblance to each other. Cabrera took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Yankees last September, but he said his success in his first home start this season meant a lot more to him.

"That was last year. Every start that I have, I'm trying to get better and better," Cabrera said. "I was just trying to make a pitch. Every pitch [catcher Paul Bako] asked me to throw, I tried to throw the best I can. The walks, that's the past."

"I don't think he's going to be any better than he was today," added Bako. "Today was plenty good enough."

Cabrera's only difficult inning was the second, when he allowed a leadoff double and a two-out double to score Detroit's first run. No Tigers player reached scoring position until the eighth, when Craig Monroe singled and scored on a two-out triple by Curtis Granderson. Through two starts, Cabrera has 14 strikeouts and four walks.

"What he did today was awesome," said designated hitter Kevin Millar, who homered in his first at-bat. "Offensively, we scored, but he did a great job holding a good club over there and throwing strikes. If we can get him to believe in his ability like he's starting to believe in it, he's going to be tough. And we've always known that."

Seven of Baltimore's nine starters reached base against Detroit starter Chad Durbin, and six Orioles drove in at least one run. Millar started things off with a homer in the third inning, and Baltimore scored three more times in that rally. The long ball was the second homer in as many days for Millar, who hit just .089 in Spring Training.

"It was Spring Training. It was practice," he said. "You want to stay healthy [and] you want to have your good at-bats, but it's a different adrenaline when the lights come on. Spring Training statistics are very overrated as long as you come out of there healthy and have some good at-bats toward the end. That's what matters."

Baltimore (3-4) also showed some speed in the four-run third inning. Center fielder Corey Patterson dropped down a bunt single and stole second base before scoring on a bloop hit by second baseman Brian Roberts. Third baseman Melvin Mora drove Roberts in with a double off the wall and scored on a hit by shortstop Miguel Tejada.

"We don't have three guys in the lineup that are going to hit you 35 or 40 home runs," Perlozzo said. "But we do have some guys that are going to get you 20 or 25, and we may have a bunch of them. In order for us to score a few more runs, we need Brian to go out there and steal a base. We need Corey Patterson to bunt and steal a couple bases.

"We need to be able to manufacture once in a while, and I think that's going to be a big part of our offense, too."

In the end, though, the day was about pitching. Many analysts have said the Orioles will be as good as their trio of young pitchers -- Cabrera, Erik Bedard and Adam Loewen -- and Perlozzo agrees with that sentiment.

"We talked about this a lot of times when we took some lumps last year," the manager said. "We were trying to get our young kids in there and letting them settle down, get their feet on the ground and get used to the Major Leagues.

"It didn't show up in the win column for us last year, but they came into Spring Training much more relaxed and much more confident in their ability to pitch."

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

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