Orioles on short end of slugfest

Orioles on short end of slugfest

BALTIMORE -- Perhaps no other start of Daniel Cabrera's career summed him up so succinctly. Everything was working for Cabrera through three innings Saturday when his night suddenly and inexplicably turned for the worse. Cabrera faced six batters in the fourth and didn't retire any of them, and New York notched a 10-run inning en route to an 11-10 victory.

That 10-run outburst represented the third time this season that a Baltimore opponent has scored 10 runs or more in a single inning. Coincidentally, Cabrera started both of the previous games but didn't factor into either of the big innings. He's allowed plenty of offense on his own, though, giving up at least five earned runs in 12 of his 34 starts this season.

Baltimore made a late comeback and left the potential tying run standing on third base in the ninth inning, but the 10-run inning was the difference-maker and the foremost theme in most people's minds after the game.

"I hope that's the end of it. I don't need to see it again," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "It's hard to come back after giving up 10 in one inning. But we did. That tells you something about playing for pride. That's what we did."

Baltimore (69-92) scored in each of the game's first three innings and held a 6-1 lead when the fourth began, but things unraveled rather quickly. The first three hitters all reached base on singles, and then shortstop Luis Hernandez made a throwing error on a fielder's choice. That opened the floodgates, and Cabrera gave up two more hits before he left the game.

All nine of New York's starters scored in the fourth inning, and the Yankees (93-68) took the lead for good on a double by Jason Giambi. Three batters later, Shelley Duncan capped the inning with a two-run home run. Cabrera (9-18) was charged with 10 hits and seven earned runs, and he tied three other Orioles for the second-highest loss total in franchise history.

The right-hander left early and wasn't available for comment after the game, but a few of his teammates spoke for him.

"This season was tough," said Baltimore catcher Ramon Hernandez. "When you're playing with a team where everything goes wrong, not many guys are going to have a good season -- including myself. That's how the game is. When you have a good season, everybody does well. Everything went bad for us this year. ... We never really got a break."

"Don't really ask me questions about Daniel, because he's fine," added shortstop Miguel Tejada. "Those are questions you have to ask Leo [Mazzone] -- he's the pitching coach and he's the one that's got to face all the pitching here. ... I just play here and I don't know what happened to the pitcher. ... He's fine. It's been a tough year for him and for everybody."

That may be the case, but few players have struggled as much as Cabrera this season. The 26-year-old racked up an ERA over 5.00 in each of the season's last five months, offsetting any pride he might've taken from setting a new career high in innings pitched. And Saturday, he never really found his comfort zone or established himself on the mound.

"I guess he made a few good pitches and they got a base hit off them. After that, he just got behind a little bit," said Hernandez, recounting Cabrera's evening at the office. "That team is pretty patient. If they're ahead, they don't swing at many bad pitches. You really have to get ahead early in the count and make them chase. I think that was the big difference."

"I didn't think he was very sharp," said Trembley. "You'd like to think that when you get six runs and you've got a lead like that -- and when you're going against [Andy] Pettitte -- you take charge of it. You want to put that sucker away. But he didn't have much finish to his pitches and the outs that he was getting, the balls were hit pretty hard."

The Orioles introduced some late-inning drama by hitting two home runs -- a three-run shot by Hernandez in the fifth inning and a solo job by Jay Payton in the eighth. That pulled the home team within one run, and leadoff man Brian Roberts drew a four-pitch walk to start the ninth. He stole second and moved to third on a ground ball, giving the O's two cracks to drive him home.

New York pulled the infield in and struck Nick Markakis out, but not before the right fielder had launched a long foul ball to the furthest reaches of right field. The next batter, Tejada, grounded out to third base to end the game. Trembley said everyone in the home dugout thought that Markakis had won the game, only to be upset moments later.

"Yeah, we all did," he said. "We all did. It would've been a nice way to end it for Nick and for the team."

"When you're facing a good pitcher like Pettitte and you score nine runs off him and don't win, it's kind of tough," said Tejada, who still has two years remaining on his contract. "But what can we say? They're a pretty good team."

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