- The Washington Times - Monday, May 31, 2004

DETROIT (AP) — With Detroit closer Ugueth Urbina on the mound, Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli thought his team’s chances were grim.

But six of the seven Baltimore batters to face Urbina reached base in the ninth inning and the Orioles rallied for a 7-3 win over the Tigers yesterday to complete a three-game sweep.

“Scoring six runs in the ninth off Urbina isn’t an easy task,” Mazzilli said. “That’s a real good win.”

It was Urbina’s first blown save in 13 chances since Aug.31 for the Florida Marlins, and the first runs he allowed all season at Comerica Park.

“He’s been awfully good for us,” Tigers manager Alan Trammell said. “I’m not sure what happened, but sometimes there’s just no explanation for it. He got ahead 0-2 on the first two batters, and they both got singles, and it went from there.”

Trailing 2-1 entering the ninth, Javy Lopez and Luis Matos started the inning with singles, and B.J. Surhoff followed with a run-scoring hit to tie it.

Urbina walked pinch-hitter Rafael Palmeiro to load the bases, then struck out Robert Machado for the first out. Brian Roberts tried to lay down a suicide squeeze bunt, but fouled it off, then walked on a 3-1 count to put Baltimore ahead.

Jerry Hairston followed with his fourth hit of the game, a two-run single off the left-field fence. Jamie Walker replaced Urbina and got the second out before Larry Bigbie, who entered as a pinch-runner for Lopez, hit a two-run single to finish the scoring.

“We don’t think we are out of a game when we are down 8-2, so definitely not when we are down 2-1,” Roberts said. “We just had a lot of good at-bats in that inning.”

Buddy Groom (2-0) got one out for the win as the Orioles became the first team to sweep the Tigers in Detroit this season.

“This is a good stretch,” Lopez said. “We especially needed this after losing seven in a row and right before facing Boston and New York.”

Ivan Rodriguez had a pair of run-scoring singles for the Tigers, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.

“I’m not worried,” Bobby Higginson said. “This doesn’t feel like a rut — that’s just a very good team over there.”

Tiger starter Mike Maroth allowed an unearned run and six hits in seven innings, while Baltimore’s Erik Bedard gave up two runs and seven hits in six innings.

“You feel good about pitching well, but it would have felt a lot better if we had won,” Maroth said. “But things like that will happen — Ugie has been great for us, and he was just a little off.”

Detroit went ahead in the third when Greg Norton led off with a double and scored on Rodriguez’s two-out single. The Tigers loaded the bases later in the inning, but Craig Monroe popped out to shortstop.

In the fifth, Higginson led off with a triple to the scoreboard in right-center and scored on Rodriguez’s bloop single to center.

Baltimore scored in the sixth. Roberts singled with one out, took third on Hairston’s single and scored when Rodriguez threw away a pickoff attempt.

The Tigers made it 7-3 in the ninth off Jorge Julio on Rondell White’s two-out single.

Notes — Chris Shelton’s bat shattered in the fourth, and the barrel of the broken bat sailed 15 rows into the stands behind the Tigers dugout. … Baltimore catcher Robert Machado and first baseman Jose Leon collided going after a sixth-inning foul pop, but neither was injured. … The WNBA champion Detroit Shock were honored before the game, with guard Deanna Nolan throwing out the first pitch. … Hairston’s four hits matched a career high. … Shortstop Carlos Guillen did not start for Detroit for just the second time this season, but entered the game as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. … The top of the ninth took 31 minutes to play.

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