Saturday, May 31, 2008

Extra-inning errors cost Orioles game

BALTIMORE -- As the night grew longer, the game got sloppier.

The Orioles slogged through their longest game of the season on Friday night, a 13-inning affair that lasted nearly five hours and was decided by two errors in the final frame. Baltimore's bullpen had thrown five scoreless innings when the key rally began, but third baseman Melvin Mora made a throwing error that opened the floodgates for Boston's 5-2 win.

Mora threw high to first base with one out in the 13th, and Manny Ramirez coasted easily into second base. The next batter, Mike Lowell, delivered a clean single to left field to give the Red Sox a late lead. Shortstop Freddie Bynum made another error to push two more runs across, and closer Jonathan Papelbon sealed the game with a scoreless inning.

"We could've come back and won the game, but I didn't play good defense," said Mora, who also made an error earlier in the game. "If I don't play defense, we can't win the game -- especially at the hot corner."

"Any time you lose, it doesn't sit with you very well," added Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "But, obviously, if you're going to get beat in this game, you'd rather have them beat you and not have it happen the way it did."

Baltimore finished with a season-high four errors, but it could just as easily lament missing a few opportunities on offense. The Orioles (26-27) struck out 17 times and left 14 men on base, with seven of them coming in the ninth inning or later. Baltimore stranded two runners in the 10th and left the bases loaded in the 12th before the defense caught up.

"Tough game, man," said first baseman Kevin Millar, who jumped and couldn't corral Mora's errant throw. "We had some opportunities there in extra innings and we just couldn't get the hit. We had guys on base, and they come in throwing some tough guys. [Manny] Delcarmen, [Craig] Hansen -- they're as good as [Josh] Beckett. They're throwing 97 mph with movement."

"When you play more than four hours, you expect to win the game," said Mora. "They made pretty good pitches. I should've crushed one ball, but I didn't. I guess [Boston catcher] Jason Varitek got me tonight. I'll get him tomorrow."

Boston (33-24) scored the game's first two runs in the first inning, and two bunts figured heavily into the early action. Second baseman Dustin Pedroia pushed a runner over to third in the first, and David Ortiz drove the run in with a hit. Ortiz wound up scoring on a sacrifice fly, and the Red Sox ran out of a rally with a botched squeeze play in the second.

Daniel Cabrera settled down after that, but he never worked into an unhittable groove. The right-hander gave up five doubles on the night and wound up stranding runners in scoring position in five of his seven innings. Cabrera also overcame an error in the seventh and left a runner on third base, winding up with his ninth quality start in his last 10 outings.

"We played a long game today. We missed a couple plays, gave them a chance and they won," said Cabrera. "There's nothing we can do -- just come back tomorrow, play good baseball and try to win the game."

"Both teams pitched outstanding," said Trembley of the pitching duel. "I thought Cabrera was up somewhat early in the game and made some adjustments, got the ball down later in the game. I thought it was real good for him."

Baltimore cut into the gap in the second inning and tied the game in the fourth. Millar scored the first one, courtesy of a throwing error by Varitek. Designated hitter Aubrey Huff pulled things even in the fourth, when he took advantage of a wayward pitch from Beckett and pulled it for his ninth home run.

The Orioles had their best chance to take control in the sixth, when Beckett got two quick outs and proceeded to load the bases on three straight walks. That brought Adam Jones to the plate, and Beckett struck him out. The right-hander, who finished second in the American League's Cy Young balloting last season, struck out 10 batters.

"We were one hit from winning the game," said Trembley. "I would've liked to have that run earlier in the game that I really thought was coming to us. And it didn't happen. But that's not sour grapes. That's just the way the game is."

Baltimore got some yeoman's work from its bullpen, which allowed just one hit in its first four innings -- and that baserunner was erased on a double play. Jim Johnson and George Sherrill worked the eighth and ninth, respectively, and Matt Albers worked three innings after that. Three relievers -- Jamie Walker, Chad Bradford and Dennis Sarfate -- split the final inning.

Walker retired the only batter he faced, and Bradford (2-2) coaxed the ground ball from Ramirez that turned into the game-changing error. Lowell and Kevin Youkilis both got to Bradford for hits and scored on Bynum's error.

"Albers was outstanding," Trembley said of his right-handed reliever. "Everybody in the bullpen pitched very well for us, as they did on their side. We had plenty of opportunities to score and it didn't happen.

"They had some chances and it didn't happen, until we gave them more than three outs in the inning."


Baltimore Orioles News