Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Jones' clutch double lifts O's over Sox

BALTIMORE -- Patience. It can be one of the most elusive qualities for young people, who generally want to have their success as soon as humanly possible. Orioles center fielder Adam Jones is no exception, but he waited for his pitch in the eighth inning Monday night and wound up with a three-run double off the left-field wall in a 6-3 win over the Red Sox.

Jones came up in a tie game with the bases loaded, a situation he's done quite well in this season. And instead of swinging at a pitch he knew he could hit, he let it go, making the situation seem even more dire. Moments later, he got another hittable pitch and smacked it deep to left and over the glove of leaping left fielder Jacoby Ellsbury.

"I was just in the right spot in the right time," said Jones, who is 3-for-5 with nine RBIs with the bases loaded. "I like hitting with men on base. I like RBIs. [After] coming up through the Minors, I just have to be more patient and be selective and get a good pitch. He threw one right down the middle and I took it. It wasn't me that was under pressure. It was him."

That hit released the pressure around the Orioles, who had lost three straight games to the Red Sox and had led for most of Monday's game. Boston scored single runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings to take the lead, but Baltimore stormed right back with three straight hits off southpaw reliever Hideki Okajima in the bottom of the eighth.

First baseman Kevin Millar tied the game on a long sacrifice fly, and one out later, catcher Ramon Hernandez walked to reload the bases. Jones patiently worked the count, then pulled the ball toward the furthest reaches of left field. Ellsbury chased it and appeared to have a chance to make the catch, but the ball bounced high off the wall and three runs scored.

"He didn't chase pitches out of the strike zone. He showed real good poise," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley. "Just like Millar did. Millar got himself in a good count and I think late in the game that plays to your advantage. I thought Ellsbury was going to catch the darn thing [with] the way he's been playing against us. But, well, he didn't."

Perhaps nobody was more relieved by that result than starter Jeremy Guthrie, who pitched well and wound up with his fifth no-decision. The right-hander has allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his 13 starts, but the Orioles (27-29) are just 4-3 in those games. Guthrie has worked six or more innings in nine of his 13 starts, but owns a 2-6 record.

Monday night brought more of the same, and Guthrie casually dominated the first five innings. He stranded runners in scoring position in three of the first four innings and got a double play in the other one, pitching Baltimore to an early lead. Boston finally broke through on a solo home run by Manny Ramirez in the sixth and tied the game in the seventh.

"It was a good win for us and a great little comeback at the end to win that one," said Guthrie. "It was great, especially against a team ahead of us in our division, a tough team. It's a great win heading into the road trip for us."

"I know Guthrie as well as anybody," said Trembley, who was ejected early in the game. "Guthrie is as tough as nails. Guthrie is the epitome of a team guy. Guthrie doesn't get all wrapped up in winning and losing and all that. Guthrie is all about doing the best he can all the time and the things that are out of his control ... I don't think those things bother him."

The Orioles jumped out to an early lead against Red Sox starter Tim Wakefield, courtesy of run-scoring hits in the fourth inning from designated hitter Aubrey Huff and Millar. The offense went quiet in the middle innings -- with no hits between the fifth and seventh -- and Wakefield managed to escape without any further damage.

Boston (35-25) tied the score on a gap double by catcher Kevin Cash in the seventh and pulled ahead on a Mike Lowell single in the eighth. Baltimore closer George Sherrill came out for the ninth inning and struck out two, but he also walked two more. Finally, Sherrill earned his 18th save on Ramirez's hard fly ball to right fielder Nick Markakis.

"I got the first two outs -- got ahead of them and everything," said Sherrill. "Then all of a sudden, everything started cutting and sinking. I don't know what was going on. Same thing with Manny, the last two pitches cut on him. He swung over the first one, and the second one just got in on him. It's better to be lucky than good."

"Well, we're 3-3 against Boston," added Trembley. "They have a very good team [and] we're going to play them during this road trip. I think it was important for us to win tonight, because you're going to play them relatively soon again. If we would have lost a one-run game tonight, those things snowball. They just keep going [and] you've got to stop it."


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