- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 10, 2004

BALTIMORE — After suffering plenty of bullpen meltdowns in recent weeks, the Baltimore Orioles gladly took advantage of an opponent’s relief struggles last night at Camden Yards.

Miguel Tejada belted a tiebreaking three-run homer and Luis Matos added a two-run shot as the Orioles battered Arizona’s relievers en route to a 8-2 victory before 25,776.

The Orioles (26-28) had been scuffling along of late with pitching woes at the crux of the struggles. Yet starter Eric DuBose and the Baltimore bullpen did a stellar job of preventing any extended rallies.

Instead, it was manager Bob Brenly’s injury-depleted bullpen that did in Arizona (23-36). Diamondbacks relievers Stephen Randolph and Brandon Villafuerte combined to produce an ugly seventh inning that turned a tie game into a laugher for the Orioles, who had lost five of six.

“If you stay close with this lineup, you feel like you have a pretty good chance,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Randolph (1-1), a lefty who has been Arizona’s most consistent reliever, tossed a scoreless sixth before walking Brian Roberts and Melvin Mora to open the seventh. With a 3-1 count on Tejada, the shortstop lofted a fastball into the flag court beyond the right-field scoreboard.

“Stephen Randolph walks the first two guys in the order to get to their 3-4-5 [hitters], and that’s just a recipe for disaster,” Brenly said.

The Orioles’ surge seemed over when Randolph retired the next two batters, but B.J. Surhoff reached on an error. Brenly then summoned Villafuerte, who served up Matos’ two-run blast on his first pitch.

Tejada’s ninth homer gave him a team-leading 47 RBI, leaving him well on pace to knock in more than 100 runs for the fifth straight season. It has been a fairly consistent year for the Orioles’ prized free agent acquisition, who has yet to enjoy a truly torrid stretch.

“There’s not only one guy,” Tejada said. “It’s everybody, and I want to keep it like that. I don’t want to carry the team. I want everybody to carry the team because that’s the way we’re going to win.”

The late-inning display overshadowed the solid start turned in by DuBose, who had cooled off since a fine April. He was beaten up by the Yankees in his previous start, and it had been hinted his spot in the Orioles’ ever-shifting rotation was in jeopardy. However, DuBose effectively mixed his pitches during 62/3 solid innings, allowing nine runners while striking out six.

“I felt like I was in the game,” DuBose said. “I was around the zone, and I challenged the hitters. This was the kind of game I needed.”

Arizona scored a run off DuBose in the fourth and another in the sixth, but the lefty emerged unscathed to turn in his best performance since earning a no-decision at Anaheim on May21. DuBose departed after surrendering a two-out double to Scott Hairston in the seventh before reliever John Parrish (4-2) struck out Danny Bautista to end the inning.

Arizona starter Brandon Webb struggled to find his command early in a five-inning outing that matched his second shortest of the season.

The sinkerballer, who was finished third in last year’s National League Rookie of the Year voting, worked out of trouble in the first two innings, settled into a monotonous routine of ground balls and gave up only two runs. But with Webb’s pitch count approaching 90, Brenly yanked his starter and put the game in the hands of the Diamondbacks’ unreliable bullpen with a 2-2 tie.

Notes — Pitcher Kurt Ainsworth, demoted to Class AAA Ottawa after starting the season in the Orioles’ rotation, underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow yesterday and probably will be sidelined six to eight weeks. The procedure revealed no bone chips in the elbow, but doctors found fluid in the joint. …

Right fielder Jay Gibbons, sidelined by back spasms for more than a week, worked out with the Orioles. Although Gibbons is eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list today, he probably won’t play until the weekend, Mazzilli said.

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