Millar's three RBIs help lift O's

Millar's three RBIs help lift O's

BALTIMORE -- This was the type of victory that makes Orioles manager Dave Trembley smile.

Kevin Millar had three RBIs, including a tiebreaking two-run homer, and starting pitcher Matt Albers threw five strong innings in his first start with the team. Jim Johnson, Jamie Walker, Chad Bradford and George Sherrill combined for four solid innings of relief, and the Orioles turned three double plays to help the pitchers in a 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays on Monday night before 11,510 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.

Trembley has been pounding home the importance of winning with all parts of the game. The Orioles don't have the kind of lineup that can wait for the three-run homer, and likely won't finish with a 20-game winner on the mound. But if everyone contributes, the Orioles get a better chance to find success.

And it's why the Orioles (8-5) remain in first place in the American League East two weeks into the season.

"It's pitching, defense and timely hitting in that order that [wins games]," Trembley said. "And we got it."

The Orioles have struggled at the plate in recent games, and still weren't perfect in this one. But they banged out 13 hits, as Blue Jays pitchers didn't retire them in order once.

Adam Jones broke out of his recent slump by going 3-for-3 with a walk, raising his average from .211 to .268. Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora also had two hits apiece. Mora also flashed some leather at third base, starting two double plays.

In addition, the Orioles pushed things while running. They stole four bases, and twice got thrown out at the plate. But they were trying to make things happen after losing four of five on a road trip to Texas and Tampa Bay.

"We got a lot of hits tonight and would have liked to score a lot more runs, but we had to like this approach," Trembley said. "We played well behind the pitchers."

Millar came into the game with a .227 average, one homer and four RBIs while batting cleanup in 11 of the first 12 games. But he went 2-for-4 and improved his early-season average to .250.

Millar hit an RBI single in the first to tie the game at 1. He then blasted a two-run homer to left field off Toronto starter Dustin McGowan (0-1) in the fifth to give the Orioles a 3-1 lead. The Blue Jays could never recover. Ramon Hernandez hit a sac fly in the eighth to knock in the other run.

"The road trip, I felt terrible," Millar said. "It started in the doubleheader in Texas. You go through those little hiccups. That club over there is a good ballclub, and it's a big win for us."

It also was a big performance for Albers (2-0). The right-hander came to the Orioles from Houston in the Miguel Tejada trade, and had been outstanding in long relief so far this season.

Albers, who made 18 starts for the Astros last year, had a shaky first inning, but stayed in command the rest of the way. He threw five strong innings and allowed just one run on five hits. He settled down after allowing a run on three hits in the first inning, and retired seven in a row at one point.

"I just kind of wanted to come in, get into a little rhythm," Albers said. "I expect to do well; I think everyone does. I'm here for whatever the team needs, just trying to help this team win."

The bullpen picked up the ball from there. Trembley was delighted with Johnson's 2 1/3-inning effort. The right-hander gave up just two hits and looked in control throughout. Trembley said he's been a very pleasant surprise.

Walker and Bradford both got an out to finish the eighth. Sherrill got his sixth save, hanging on after giving up a two-run homer to pinch-hitter Alex Rios, to keep the Orioles in first place.

"It's just a matter of putting some good ones together, and I think we've been doing that," Sherrill said.

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