WP: Rodrigo Lopez (11-6)
LP: Casey Fossum (6-9)
BAL: 55-58 (4th in AL East, 11 behind Boston)
Jay Gibbons' first inning grand slam put the Orioles ahead of the Devil Rays, 5-0, on Wednesday night, and the offense kept pounding away on Tampa Bay pitching to get the O's a 9-5 win.
The Orioles had a 6-0 lead after two innings, thanks to a Miguel Tejada RBI single and Gibbons' slam in the first, then a Melvin Mora RBI single in the second.
Rodrigo Lopez dominated for the first three innings, getting the first 10 Tampa Bay batters out before running into trouble in the fourth. An Aubrey Huff three-run homer off of Lopez made it 6-3, but the Birds were not done scoring.
In the fifth inning, Miguel Tejada hit a two-run double, which Javy Lopez followed with a single to score him.
Tampa Bay got runs in the seventh and ninth innings, but it was not enough to close the six-run gap that the O's bats had created.
Rodrigo Lopez went 8.2 innings, giving up all five runs on nine hits. Jorge Julio came in with two outs in the ninth and a man on second and promptly threw a wild pitch to advance the runner to third, then walked a batter before striking out Joey Gathright to end the game.
30-year-old rookie Alejandro Freire (pronounced FRAY-duh ... or Fray-Day if you listen to Jim Palmer) got his first Major League hit, a double in the eighth inning. It was his second game.
The O's have locked up their first series win since the big series win over Boston leading into the All-Star break. They go for the brooms tonight at 7:05 at Camden Yards when Bruce Chen (8-6, 4.24 ERA, throws left) faces Doug Waechter (4-7, 5.27 ERA, throws right).
The O's are becoming somewhat of a feel-good team again, winning four of six games under interim manager Sam Perlozzo.
The team needs to string together a few more wins -- at least enough to get over .500 -- before they regain my confidence, but to go on a run you have to start by winning a couple games, which they've done.
It would be great to get the sweep to return the favor for when they swept us in Tampa, and they really need the boost going into a grueling four-week schedule that runs until the off day on September 8. Here's what it looks like for the next four weeks:
Toronto for three games
at Oakland for three
at Cleveland for three
Los Angeles Angels for three
Oakland for four
at Toronto for three
at Boston for three
Toronto for three
So all of the O's next 25 games are against teams currently over .500. That doesn't mean they can't go on a run, but it certainly makes it harder.