Roberts, O's break out bats in win
Offensive barrage backs Liz, bullpen to avert Chicago sweep
BALTIMORE -- Early Wednesday afternoon manager Dave Trembley posted a lineup that had Alex Cintron slotted in at second base, giving Brian Roberts just his fifth day off all season. That lineup didn't last long. Cintron, who came down with a bout of food poisoning before the game, had to be scratched and Roberts' day off was no more.
That switch worked out nicely for the Orioles who rode Roberts' two-hit, three-RBI night to an 11-3 win over the White Sox in Baltimore's finale of a nine-game homestand that saw it go 2-7.
"I think Cintron was the player of the game," White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said. "He was supposed to be in the lineup, then all of a sudden, Roberts plays and he killed us. I blame Cintron for this one. Thank you. You almost got me fired last year, now you're going to get me fired this year."
Cintron, however, wasn't the only one to blame for Guillen's grumpiness after the game. The Orioles got 5 1/3 innings of three-hit baseball with five walks out of starter Radhames Liz, who was making his second start since being recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Aug. 22, and limited the White Sox to two earned runs to get his fifth win of the season. It was a much-needed outing for a team that's starters have a 7.97 ERA over the last 10 games and whose bullpen is in dire need of some rest.
"I was thinking today, 'Don't try to be too aggressive with my body, try to locate the ball more,'" Liz said, touching on how key repeating his delivery is to his success. "In Triple-A, I was relaxed, I didn't feel any pressure on me and every time you face a hitter you learn. ... [Last] time I was here, I know I lost my confidence a little bit so then when I got back [to Triple-A], I got it back."
On the offensive side of the ball, things weren't nearly as quiet for the Orioles, who were able to turn around a problem that has plagued them all season -- allowing first-inning runs -- and use it against the White Sox by putting up the game's first run in the bottom of the first on an RBI sacrifice fly by Aubrey Huff that scored Nick Markakis from third.
"It hasn't been the kind of homestand that we drew up on a blueprint," Trembley said. "We played all good teams that are all in contention and I think it just goes back to a real simple formula: If you don't pitch good, you don't have a chance.
"A very simple thing for us was Liz put a zero up in the first inning on six pitches. I think everybody could take a deep breath and go, 'OK,lets play.'"
The first-inning run wasn't all the Orioles bats would get them, however. Baltimore tallied runs in four of the next five innings, plating two in the second and two in the fifth to help buoy Liz, who, aside from allowing a solo homer to Paul Konerko in the third, only had one tough inning and was helped out of it by Markakis'league-leading 15th outfield assist.
With A.J. Pierzynski on third, Jim Thome sent one off the wall in right field, but was gunned down by Markakis while trying to stretch his hit into a double. Pierzynski scored on the play, but the throw from Markakis helped Liz escape the inning without any further damage. Liz and the Orioles were also the benefactor of two diving stops by third baseman Melvin Mora that aided the right-hander's quest for quick innings.
"They were key for Liz because his pitch count was up," Trembley said of the defensive plays behind his hurler. "His ball-strike ratio was 50-50, they were working the count on him real good. They were extra outs that I'm not quite so sure he would have been out there to get."
The Orioles knocked White Sox starter John Danks out of the game after the fourth inning, tagging the left-hander for four earned runs off seven hits and three walks -- part of a 16-hit barrage that continued even after Danks had exited the ballgame.
And although Jermaine Dye sent a solo homer to left in the eighth to cut the Orioles' lead to five, Baltimore struck right back in the bottom of the inning by way of a two-run homer by Huff and a solo shot by Kevin Millar two batters later for the ultimate insurance runs. Baltimore got RBI contributions from Roberts, Mora, Huff, Millar and shortstop Juan Castro with Roberts, Huff and Castro all having multi-RBI nights.
Amanda Comak is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.