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DET@BAL: Roberts cranks a three-run jack in the fifth

BALTIMORE -- Monday's pregame festivities for the Orioles' home opener were about the past as much as the present, with Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver throwing out the ceremonial first pitch to current Baltimore skipper Buck Showalter, shortly after the current squad was introduced on the traditional orange carpet.

By the time Monday was finished and the Orioles had christened Camden Yards with a 5-1 win over the Tigers in front of a sold-out crowd of 46,593, the home team had given Baltimore something long-forgotten: Hope for the future.

Anchored by Brian Roberts' three-run homer and another stellar start, this time from 25-year-old Jake Arrieta, the Orioles opened their series against the Tigers with a victory, improving to 4-0 for the first time since 1997, which was also their last winning season.

"We are aware of the talent we have," said Arrieta, who is part of four-man rotation, along Jeremy Guthrie, Chris Tillman and Zach Britton, that has pitched to a cumulative 0.69 ERA (two earned runs in 26 innings) to start the season.

"If we go out there and pitch, keep our team in the game, it's only a matter of time before we put some runs on the board. Somebody is going to have the hot hand night in, night out."

Through the first games of the season, that hand has been all Roberts. The longest-tenured Oriole, Roberts has hit both of the O's home runs this season and has collected a team-leading eight RBIs. Both of his blasts have been three-run homers that broke a tie.

"It seems like he's been able on the field to dial up what was needed," manager Buck Showalter said of Roberts, who connected on a Rick Porcello's 1-2 pitch in the fifth.

"He's got just a feel for being able to challenge the moment."

Roberts has also allowed himself to savor it. A year removed from playing just 59 games due to a herniated disk in his lower back -- which he reinjured during last year's home opener -- Roberts said Monday that this year's Opening Day had the feel of something special.

"We were in the locker room [Sunday] night in Tampa, and Kevin Buck, our traveling secretary, told us that standing-room only tickets were going for 75, 100 bucks," Roberts said. "All the guys were like, 'Wow.' It's one of those things that I don't think the team had been that excited in my career for Opening Day here."

Arguably no one was excited as Arrieta, who was so overcome with emotion that he had bullpen catcher Ronnie Deck get him a bottle of water while warming up to try to calm down what the typically stoic right-hander dubbed the worst case of dry mouth ever.

"I don't think there's a better feeling in the world than the feeling you get when you toe the rubber Opening Day in your home stadium," said Arrieta, who pitched six innings of one-run ball. "[It was] just a great feeling from start to finish."

He gave the home crowd something to cheer about, making several big pitches and helping the Tigers strand seven baserunners in his six frames. Arrieta held middle-of-the-order bats Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez to a combined 1-for-9, picking up a big strikeout of Cabrera to end the first in emphatic fashion.

"He was aggressive," Cabrera said of Arrieta. "He threw a lot of fastballs in. A couple times he got us to swing at high fastballs."

Added Tigers manager Jim Leyland: "They're feeding off that [pitching], a couple big hits. ... They have a lot of things going for them right now. You just have to go out and shut them down."

There has been no slowing down the Orioles, who have allowed just one run in each of their first four contests and let their offense do the rest. On Monday, Matt Wieters doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the second inning for the game's first run, while Nick Markakis went 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. But it was Roberts, who is hitting .294 in four games, who delivered the fatal blow.

"Brian has basically been our offense so far," said Derrek Lee, who along with power bats Vladimir Guerrero and Mark Reynolds has yet to really get going.

"We'll get some other guys get hot. When we all start clicking on all cylinders, I think we'll be really good."

It's a scary thought for Orioles' opposing pitchers that the new lineup hasn't really clicked. On Monday, Porcello was charged with five runs on nine hits and a walk in five innings and was left lamenting Roberts' homer.

O's reliever Jason Berken followed Arrieta, and tossed two scoreless innings in his second consecutive appearance. Koji Uehara recorded the final three outs with the crowd at Camden Yards on its feet.

"It was a great day," Arrieta said. "[It's] fun to be part of this team right now. [I'm] just real excited about the direction we're going.

Monday's win improves the Orioles to 38-23 since Showalter took the reins in August, which is the best record in the American League over that stretch. It also makes taking Tuesday's off day "a little sweeter," according to Showalter.

"Off-days, when you are 4-0, you certainly enjoy them a lot more," Roberts said. Comments