04/14/09 12:59 AM ET
Orioles win slugfest at Arlington
Uehara gives up seven runs; Baltimore bats come alive
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
And despite all the offense, the game turned on defense. After Ian Kinsler stroked a leadoff double in the ninth inning, Michael Young hit a long fly ball to right field and Nick Markakis made a long run and a wall-defying catch to save the game. Closer George Sherrill took that extra life and escaped to earn the save.
"I just got a good jump on it and it stayed in the ballpark," said Markakis. "My first reaction was just get back there and try to get it any way you can. It stayed in the park just enough for me and it ended up in my glove."
"I was praying, because I've seen Michael do that too many times," added Baltimore catcher Gregg Zaun. "Just when you think you've got a good pitch on him, he'll flick one over that wall.
"Great catch and lucky break for us that Kinsler didn't tag up. Otherwise, we might still be playing."
The Orioles (5-2) had several offensive heroes, but the top half of the batting order stood out. Baltimore's top five hitters -- Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Markakis, Aubrey Huff and Ty Wigginton -- combined to go 12-for-26 with nine RBIs and seven runs. Five Orioles had more than one hit and six drove in at least one run.
Much of that damage came against Texas starter Vicente Padilla, and the game turned on one extended rally. Baltimore was trailing 4-2 when the fourth inning started, but the Orioles logged five straight RBI hits to chase Padilla (1-1) and take command. Everyone from Roberts to Wigginton contributed in that stretch.
"It's typical for games here in Texas. It seems like no lead's safe," said Zaun. "Those guys can swing the bats and we didn't pitch real well tonight. It was nice to score a lot of runs. Thank God for the top half of the order."
Huff had perhaps the best day of all, getting four hits in the first five innings and driving in three runs. Roberts and Markakis also had big days at the plate, combining for five hits, five runs and three RBIs.
But Texas (3-4) refused to go away, battling back in the sixth and seventh innings. The Rangers loaded the bases against Koji Uehara with no outs in the sixth and scored all three runners on a hit and two groundouts. Then, in the seventh, Andruw Jones hit a two-run home run off Danys Baez to make it a one-run game.
Baltimore mixed and matched relievers to get through the eighth inning and turned to Sherrill with a one-run lead in the ninth. The southpaw dodged a bullet on the Markakis catch and got cleanup hitter Josh Hamilton to fly out. Then, after a walk and a double steal, Sherrill struck out Marlon Byrd to earn his third save.
Uehara, making just his second start in the Major Leagues, struggled with his command and control. The Orioles handed him a two-run lead in the first inning, but Uehara (2-0) gave it back immediately. Chris Davis tied the game on a home run in the second, and Young put the Rangers briefly ahead with a two-run shot in the third.
"I thought he was out of sync early with his delivery and his location," said manager Dave Trembley. "They forced his hand, they took a lot of pitches. He had seven three-ball counts, but he had 17 out of 24 first-pitch strikes, so after he got strike one they didn't bite. ... He was trying to expand the strike zone and they weren't going for it.
"He was pitching away to most of the right-handed pitchers and that wasn't working for him."
Trembley sent Uehara back out for the sixth inning, hoping that the veteran would be able to persevere with a six-run lead. Uehara sandwiched two walks around a double, though, and Baez couldn't strand the runners. Three innings later, the game -- which had enough offense to last a week -- came down to the Markakis catch.
The right fielder ran toward the wall at a dead sprint and was able to reach out and snare the ball seconds before hitting the wall. Markakis gathered himself and threw the ball in, holding Kinsler at second.
"I thought that was just a heckuva catch," said Trembley. "You're kind of playing a situation there where you're on the road. You're really not playing no doubles there. You're trying to take the hit away that's in front of you so maybe you can throw the guy out at the plate. Nicky got a real good break on it. That was one to remember."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.