Thursday, June 5, 2008

O's squander early lead as Mauer rallies Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS -- Orioles manager Dave Trembley sought Twins catcher Joe Mauer before Wednesday's game to give him a message.

"I told him I thought he is a real credit to the game, the way he plays," Trembley said.

To the misfortune of Trembley's Orioles, Mauer went out and proved the skipper right.

Mauer went 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBIs, and a wacky sacrifice fly in the Twins' 7-5 victory at Metrodome.

Minnesota's catcher took a chunk out of Baltimore's 5-2 lead in the fifth inning when he hit a long shot to center field off a 94-mph Daniel Cabrera fastball. With runners on second and third and one out, Orioles center fielder Adam Jones streaked to the ball and made the catch. But Jones slipped on the warning track after securing the out, allowing both Carlos Gomez and Nick Punto, who were on second and third, respectively, to score.

"It was good baserunning that took advantage of Jones slipping, that's all," Trembley said. "If he didn't slip, they weren't going to score two. They were going to score one."

"It kind of helps out to have the fastest guy in baseball at second base," Mauer said.

Cabrera ran into more trouble in the sixth. He allowed a leadoff single to Michael Cuddyer, which was followed by a Jason Kubel RBI triple. Delmon Young then hit a sacrifice fly to right field, giving the Twins their first lead.

Cabrera, who had improved his control after leading the American League in walks the past two years, hit two batters during the game. He also threw a wild pitch in the second inning that allowed Cuddyer to score.

"He didn't look comfortable," Trembley said. "I thought maybe after the second inning, he was going to find his groove, somewhat. It just didn't happen for him."

The damage against Cabrera could have been more substantial if not for a stellar play by Melvin Mora at third base.

The Twins loaded the bases in the third with two outs. Cuddyer scorched a liner that appeared headed for the left-field corner. But Mora dove and speared the ball, allowing the team to get out of the inning. The play probably saved three runs.

"I thought when that happened, it was going to take Cabrera off the hook somewhat, maybe find his way and maybe settle down somewhat," Trembley said.

Cabrera (5-2, 3.98 ERA) went six innings, allowing eight hits and six earned runs.

Mauer added a home run in the seventh, a shot into the right-field upper deck off Jamie Walker, padding Minnesota's lead.

"It was his day," Cabrera said.

The Orioles jumped on Twins starter Glen Perkins when Mora and Kevin Millar hit back-to-back solo home runs in the first inning. Perkins was chased after four innings, allowing nine hits and four earned runs. He gave way to recently demoted starter Boof Bonser (3-6), who went 2 2/3 scoreless innings and recorded the win.

"Today, we fought to a lead and I was supposed to keep the game to three or four runs," Cabrera said. "I'm just feeling bad."

Joe Nathan pitched a perfect ninth inning to lock down his 16th save.

Mauer's sacrifice was the first two-run sacrifice since May 8, 2001, when Alex Ochoa, playing for the Reds against the D-backs, accomplished the feat.


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