Berken uses outburst to tame Indians

Berken uses outburst to tame Indians

BALTIMORE -- Chalk up another positive impression for the two-seam fastball.

Jason Berken's late-season adjustment paid dividends for the second consecutive start Friday and allowed him to win back-to-back decisions for the first time in his career. Baltimore's rookie starter used his sinking fastball to great effect and took advantage of a well-rounded offensive attack in a 13-4 rout over Cleveland.

"The last two starts, I've shown that good things are happening when I go to that pitch," he said. "I think tonight in the fifth inning, I got away from it a little bit and started throwing a little too many offspeed pitches. Especially when we're up in the game by three runs, it's important for me to go out there and challenge them right away. ... I found something that's working for me, and I've got to continue to use it and keep getting confidence in it."

Berken, who won his big league debut and then lost nine consecutive decisions, has made small inroads toward turning his season around. The right-hander worked just five innings on Friday, but he rebounded to keep Baltimore in control. Berken (4-11) allowed runs in each of the first two innings and threw shutout ball from there.

Berken left the game with a four-run lead, and things quickly spiraled out of control. The Orioles scored in five consecutive innings -- the fourth through the seventh -- and were able to win going away. Five of Baltimore's nine starters had at least two hits, and seven Orioles scored en route to the team's second-highest run total of the year.

"I liked our effort tonight and I liked our fight in the game," said manager Dave Trembley. "We had some very good ... team at-bats tonight. Some good situational hitting. We put some numbers up on the board."

The Orioles (53-76) tied the game with two runs in the second inning and pulled ahead for good with three more in the fourth. And in the aftermath, there were several key individual efforts. Matt Wieters had three hits and a career-high four RBIs, and Luke Scott reached base four times and tied a career high with three runs.

Two other Orioles -- Felix Pie and Nick Markakis -- combined for six hits, two home runs and six RBIs in the one-sided win. Fausto Carmona, who started for the Indians, was charged with six earned runs, and his bullpen got hit hard after him. Jensen Lewis and Jess Todd combined to get seven outs and allow seven earned runs.

"We've had a couple tough losses in the last few games," said Scott, who went into the game hitting .179 since the All-Star break. "And you credit the other team for doing a good job, but there were games that we should've won. It felt good tonight to come out against a guy with really good stuff and put some runs on the board."

Berken, one of five Baltimore starters to win his big league debut this season, was the main beneficiary of that support. The former sixth-round draftee escaped bases-loaded jams in the third and fifth innings on Friday night and said that each win and each new opportunity to prove himself is invaluable at this point.

"I think throughout the year, I've gotten better and better," he said. "And the experience I've gotten up here has been great. I feel very fortunate for the opportunities that I've had, but now it's time for me to finish strong this last month, and to continue to pitch well, continue to get better. I think every start is important."

"Berken is a guy that pitches more with his heart," added Trembley. "You have to watch him real close. I'll be interested to see how he is the next time out. I think he's a guy you've got to watch. He's up there in innings. He's had to endure some very difficult games. ... But he'll give you what he's got. He won't back off."

The Orioles had long awaited a breakout game for Wieters, and the switch-hitter came through in a big way. Wieters drove an RBI double in the second inning, a run-scoring single in the fourth and a two-run double in the sixth. By doing so, he validated a pregame prediction from Trembley, who had said that his catcher will improve.

"He's probably feeling a little more comfortable," Trembley said. "They're pitching him away and he's hitting it over there from both sides. And then they pitched him in, and he turned on it down the line. That's great for him."

Cleveland (57-71) scored once in the sixth inning and once in the ninth, but the Orioles positively owned the endgame. The only troubling sign for Baltimore came in the seventh, when Pie singled and left the game with a cramp. Trembley said he hopes to have Pie -- and perhaps even starter Adam Jones -- back at full strength Saturday.

"If both of those guys can't play tomorrow, I think we'd probably have to do something," he said. "I mean, we can't play short. We'd have to do something. But right now we feel like we're going to be OK with it."

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