Orioles figure out old nemesis
Baltimore breaks through against Pettitte, Astros
BALTIMORE -- To many Orioles players, regardless of how long Andy Pettitte pitches for the Astros or how many National League Central titles the left-hander can help them win, he will always be a New York Yankee.On countless occasions, Pettitte donned that grey uniform with the navy blue cap and dominated the Orioles at Camden Yards. Only Secretariat was a surer bet. Yet, this Orioles club carried a different outlook when Pettitte stepped to the mound for Houston on a sweltering night on Tuesday at Camden Yards. Perhaps the past Orioles clubs, the ones who felt inferior to talented pitchers, especially those from New York, would have succumbed to a vintage Pettitte -- as he was this time. This group, however, used patience, not over-aggression, to beat Pettitte and the Astros, 6-1, in front of 24,659 for its second straight win. Bruce Chen bested Pettitte with seven scoreless innings. Pettitte, who entered the start with a 20-4 career record against the Orioles, including a 12-2 mark at Camden Yards, and with an eight-game winning streak versus the O's, did not allow a runner to second base through five innings. He has had a tough time since signing a three-year deal with the Astros before the 2004 season. He missed most of last season with a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow, and this year, he has received little run support -- as was the case on Tuesday. In the sixth inning, Pettitte allowed a one-out single to Larry Bigbie, who has looked like a different player since coming off the disabled list. Bigbie moved to second base on a Brian Roberts' grounder, and then Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli made a move dripping with gamesmanship. Houston first baseman Lance Berkman appeared to slightly injure his surgically-repaired knee fielding Roberts' grounder, and he walked toward the Astros' dugout after making the play. Manager Phil Garner met Berkman on the field before he reached the dugout. Berkman's knee was fine, and the only reason why he headed over to the Houston bench was because he thought there were three outs. While walking back to first, Berkman said a few words to Pettitte. Mazzilli jumped out of the dugout and pointed out to home-plate umpire Jim Wolfe that it should constitute a mound visit. Wolfe called the other three umpires for a conference. Meanwhile, Pettitte waited and waited. Finally, it was ruled a visit. "That's the correct ruling," Garner admitted. "After I talked with Lance, it doesn't matter what was said. Lance stopped and talked to the pitcher at the mound, and that constitutes a trip." Berkman admitted after the game that he wasn't hurt. In fact, he thought there were three outs in the inning, when there were only two. After the delay, Melvin Mora laced a single to left-center field for the game's first run. Mora clapped his hands vigorously, because the Orioles had finally broken through. Next, Miguel Tejada got a two-seam fastball that didn't cut inside, and he smashed it for his team-leading 18th home run and a 3-0 lead. Tejada thrust his fist as he rounded the bases. "We just kept battling. The key was that we just got a run, because you knew it was going to tough to score," Tejada said. "When you face a pitcher like Pettitte, you have to go out there and see that ball, be patient."
|Miguel Tejada / SS|
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.