Jones leads O's to comeback victory
Center fielder caps rally from four down with three-run jack
BALTIMORE -- The O's offense came through once more on Sunday. Brian Roberts homered and had four hits. Adam Jones added three hits, including a three-run homer that gave the Orioles the lead for good after trailing by four runs earlier.
But Orioles manager Dave Trembley thought the key moment in his team's come-from-behind 8-5 victory over the Rangers before 22,896 at Oriole Park had to do with pitching.
The Rangers already hit three homers off Orioles starter Brad Bergesen, had a 5-1 lead and put runners on first and second when reliever Danys Baez entered with none out in the fifth. Baez got the first two batters before an error loaded the bases. The right-hander then ended the inning by getting Baltimore nemesis Ian Kinsler to ground out.
"The momentum of the game changed when he got out of the inning," Trembley said. "There was a different feel in the dugout after he got out of that inning. When we scored a couple, I think everybody felt like we were going to win the game."
The game turned around after that. Baltimore scored three runs in both the fifth and sixth to take a 7-5 lead before adding another run in the eighth. Baez and the bullpen shut the Rangers down. The right-hander threw three hitless innings before Jim Johnson added another, and closer George Sherrill gave up just one hit in the ninth while notching his fourth save.
Bottom line for the bullpen -- five innings pitched, four strikeouts, one hit, no walks. But it all started with Baez (1-1), who got his first win since July 7, 2006.
"He gets three outs against a tough lineup," Jones said. "Their [whole] lineup, one through nine [is tough]. We fed off that energy."
Baez has been one of the team's most pleasant pitching surprises this season. He missed all of 2008 following elbow surgery. That came after an 0-6 season in 2007 with a 6.44 ERA, so expectations for Baez weren't high at the start.
But he's pitched very well so far in relief, giving up four runs on five hits in 10 1/3 innings for a 3.48 ERA. Baez has struck out 10, walked just one and is pitching with confidence that gives Trembley another weapon in the bullpen.
Baez was nearly flawless in this game, retiring nine of the 10 batters he faced. The only one who reached got on because of the error. He threw 22 strikes on 33 pitches.
"When you're healthy, you have more confidence," Baez said. "You don't have to think about what hurts here or what hurts there. I feel good. I feel strong, and everything was on today."
The strong pitching of Baez and the bullpen got Bergesen off the hook and opened the door for a comeback. Bergesen, making his second Major League start, threw well through four innings before the Rangers got three runs on five hits in the fifth for the 5-1 lead. The first five Texas batters reached in that inning.
Roberts began the comeback when he led off the fifth with a solo homer off Brandon McCarthy. Nick Markakis scored later in the inning on right fielder Nelson Cruz's throwing error. Luke Scott added an RBI double two batters later to make it 5-4.
After Baez retired the Rangers (8-10) in order in the sixth, Cesar Izturis reached when Jason Jennings (0-1) hit him with one out. Roberts then singled before Jones sent a 2-1 pitch over the fence in left to give the Orioles (9-10) a 7-5 lead.
Markakis, who went 2-for-3 and extended his hitting streak to 13 games, singled in the eighth to drive in Jones. The center fielder walked and stole second to set up the insurance run.
The top of the lineup again carried the Orioles. Roberts, Jones, Markakis and Aubrey Huff combined for 10 of the team's 14 hits and six of its seven RBIs. They've been hot all season.
But there's no doubt that they wouldn't have had the chance to do much if Baez didn't escape from trouble in the fifth and keep the Orioles within four. It could be a turning point for Baez, whose work has caught Trembley's eye.
"He's healthy, [and] I think that's the biggest thing," Trembley said. "He's got his pitches back. He's got velocity, he's got crispness on his pitches [and] he's got finish on his pitches. His delivery is better because his arm is better."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.