It's a Windfall for O's Offense

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 15, 2005

CHICAGO, May 14 -- A stiff swirling wind, one appropriate for this city by Lake Michigan, whisked countless wrappers and pieces of paper onto the field that settled like gigantic snowflakes on the grass. With such powerful gusts that could help carry balls farther than normal, it seemed the Baltimore Orioles had an opportunity to break out of a two-game offensive slump against the best team in baseball. Baltimore's powerful offense returned in a 9-6 win against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The Orioles had 15 hits, 2 home runs, 7 doubles and 6 walks.

"We as a team are a really good hitting team," Miguel Tejada said. "We understand that they've pitched well, but we're better than that. We had to be patient, like we were tonight."

If the Orioles wanted to be considered more than pretenders, they needed a better showing against the White Sox. The Orioles had not proven to be worthy opponents in the first two games of this anticipated series.

"You don't want to come here and get swept," Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts said.

Tejada's double in the seventh inning against Chicago starter Freddy Garcia broke a 5-5 tie. In a four-run seventh inning, Baltimore had four hits, which was only one hit fewer than it had all of Friday night. The nine runs, the most scored by Baltimore since April 26, helped overcome an inconsistent effort by starting pitcher Daniel Cabrera, who nonetheless earned his third win.

"My teammates today picked me up," Cabrera said. "In the first three innings, I said it's not going to be my day because I made good pitches, and they hit bloopers."

Though he is talented and his stuff can sometimes be overwhelming, Cabrera might not succeed in the majors if he continues to struggle with men on base.

When the Orioles skipped Cabrera's start in late April, pitching coach Ray Miller hoped to change the pitcher's delivery in several bullpen sessions. Miller had noticed Cabrera, because of his lanky body, took too long to get to the plate. But Cabrera did not take to Miller's suggestion to shorten his delivery. Cabrera felt uncomfortable with a low leg drive. Instead, Miller compromised and made only a slight adjustment. It has not helped.

Scott Podsednik easily stole second and third base in the first inning and scored on a slow groundout to first base. Cabrera walked Willie Harris in the second and the Chicago second baseman stole second and scored the White Sox' second run of the game on a double by Juan Uribe.

Podsednik reached base in the fourth and then stole second and third again. The Chicago left fielder tied a franchise record -- which he set this year -- with four steals in the game. He became the first player since 1991 to steal four bases in a game twice in one year. In all, Cabrera allowed five steals in the first four innings.

"The kid [Podsednik] stole 70 bases last year," Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "Not too many guys are throwing him out."

Cabrera was not woeful on Saturday, but seemed struck by bad luck. Podsednik had reached base in the first on a swinging bunt that landed between Cabrera and catcher Javy Lopez. A two-run double by Tadahito Iguchi in the second had blooped just over first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.

The Orioles' offense, which had been quieted in the first two games of this four-game series, showed life in the fourth. B.J. Surhoff and Jay Gibbons hit back-to-back home runs to get within a run. Jeff Fiorentino followed with his second single of the game.

Fiorentino, who had singled in his first two major league at-bats on Friday, scored on Roberts's double. Roberts had three doubles and two RBI. Fiorentino added a double in the ninth and has five hits in seven at-bats.

"The first day I saw him take batting practice, I knew he had a good swing," Tejada said. "If you know how to play baseball, you just need confidence to hit it."

Chicago Manager Ozzie Guillen joked after the game he first thought Fiorentino was Baltimore's bat boy. The center fielder has not appeared overwhelmed.

"I was worried they'd ship me out because we were losing," Fiorentino said.

The wind continued throughout the night. In the first two nights of the series, Orioles hitters complained the ball had not carried well at U.S. Cellular Field.

This time, though, the wind blew in Baltimore's favor.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company