O's Tame Tigers

By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, June 5, 2005

DETROIT, June 4 -- Forty-four times this season reliever John Parrish sat in the Baltimore bullpen waiting to be called into a game, but the phone never rang. He was rarely used, and the time in the bullpen had seemed to wear on him, making him antsy. The reliever shaved his head simply out of boredom. Prior to one game this week, Parrish lounged in a clubhouse sofa, a towel wrapped around his head, and watched a movie on the giant screen television. Pitching coach Ray Miller asked what he was doing. Parrish deadpanned, "Just another day off."

When Baltimore's starting pitchers were doing well, Parrish, as the team's long man, was hardly needed. He was certainly needed on Saturday, when starter Rodrigo Lopez lasted just three innings. Parrish, in just his 11th appearance this season, was summoned in the fourth to keep the game close. The lefty pitched a crucial 2 2/3 scoreless innings in Baltimore's 14-7 win against the Detroit Tigers, allowing the Orioles to use an outburst that saved Lopez from a loss.

"Parrish did a phenomenal job," Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "That was what won us the game."

Four Baltimore relievers combined to throw six scoreless innings.

"That was one of the keys to the game," Lopez said. "They shut them down after I left the game."

Prior to the first Detroit batter of the game, Lopez asked that a fan, standing in the section behind home plate and wearing a white shirt, be moved. Apparently the fan had distracted Lopez during his warmup pitches. Perhaps Lopez should have worried more about the white shirts in the batter's box.

Lopez allowed seven runs on six hits in those ineffective three innings. Rondell White hit a three-run home run against Lopez in the first that landed in the bullpen in left field.

Almost each ball hit off the Baltimore right-hander was forcibly struck. Nine of the 18 batters Lopez faced reached base. It certainly wasn't a quality outing from Baltimore's appointed ace, who allowed the most runs by a starter since May 20 -- a span of 14 games.

The Orioles still appeared to have regained some of the momentum lost after Detroit's three-run first inning when Baltimore scored three runs in the second inning, two on an error by shortstop Tony Giarratano. But Detroit scored three more runs in the second and another in the third to take a 7-3 lead.

"I don't know what happened tonight," Lopez said. "I felt like I didn't have enough energy. I felt lazy. Because of that, my pitches were up."

Lopez has greatly benefited from Baltimore's ability to score runs. In Lopez's six no-decisions this year, he has an ERA of 9.20.

He was saved this time by Rafael Palmeiro's grand slam in the fifth. The Orioles loaded the bases against Detroit starter Wilfredo Ledezma on two walks and a single. Palmeiro, who entered the at-bat hitting just .136 against left-handed pitchers, sent his eighth home run of the season over the right field wall to tie the score at 7.

Baltimore took the lead in the top of the seventh on a bloop double from Jay Gibbons, scoring Chris Gomez. Baltimore scored five times in the ninth, including a grand slam from Melvin Mora. It was the first time since 1998 Baltimore had two grand slams in a game.

Baltimore, three games ahead of the Red Sox, continues to amaze with its ability to manage a series of injuries. Catcher Geronimo Gil left Saturday's game after being struck with a foul ball. X-rays were negative and Gil is listed as day-to-day.

Parrish said that only recently he's started to pitch well. Saturday's outing put his ERA at 1.13. Perhaps he's earned more work.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company