Monday, May 23, 2005

BALTIMORE — The music resonated through the clubhouse, plates were piled with food and there were smiles all around.

Now that they’re winning, the rejuvenated Philadelphia Phillies are having a grand time at the ballpark.

Cory Lidle pitched a six-hitter, and Pat Burrell went 3-for-3 with a three-run homer and a walk to lead the Phillies past the Baltimore Orioles 7-2 yesterday.

Mike Lieberthal also homered for Philadelphia, which took two of three from the first-place Orioles after doing the same against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Phillies (21-24) are still last in the National League East, but they’re confident their situation is about to improve.

“We’ve been playing well for the past six or seven games. We’ve got more life, and we enjoy playing right now,” manager Charlie Manuel said. “I want to tell you, the worst is behind us.”

The beginning of interleague play could mean rocky times lie ahead for the Orioles. Since the AL and NL began facing each other in 1997, Baltimore is 57-85 in those games — the worst record in the majors.

The Orioles are 6-15 in interleague play the last two seasons, including 2-4 against the Phillies.

“It’s only the first series. We’re not going to dwell on it,” said Sidney Ponson, who allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings. “We’re much better than last year. Let’s wait and see. Things are going to turn around.”

Miguel Tejada homered for the Orioles, whose lead in the American League East over Boston was cut to two games after the Red Sox beat Atlanta 5-2.

Lidle (4-3) struck out four and walked one in his 11th career complete game, the first this season and the second by Philadelphia. The right-hander came in 0-4 with a 6.95 ERA in six career games at Camden Yards.

“It all starts with the pitching,” Burrell said. “We haven’t had too many guys that can throw complete games around here in the past.”

Lidle threw only 99 pitches and faced more than four hitters in only one inning, the eighth.

“We’re having fun right now. There’s a good attitude here in the clubhouse,” he said. “We knew when we got off to a bad start that it wasn’t going to last all year. We stayed strong.”

Ponson (5-2) absorbed his first loss since April14, even though his 5.83 ERA is second-worst on the staff. The two homers the right-hander allowed doubled the total he yielded in his first eight starts.

Ponson kept the Orioles close, but Lidle was just too tough.

“It was good to see him go nine innings,” Manuel said. “He used all the pitches he had and had great command.”

The Phillies went up 3-1 in the third. After Jimmy Rollins singled and Jim Thome drew a two-out walk, Burrell followed with his ninth home run.

“The ball didn’t sink,” Ponson said. “The ball didn’t go where I wanted, it went where he wanted.”

Lieberthal made it 4-1 in the fourth with a two-out drive to left.

“Anybody could have hit a home run on that pitch, right down the middle,” Ponson said. “It was a mistake, and he should hit it out.”

Tejada hit his 11th homer in the sixth inning, only the sixth against Lidle in his 19 career starts with Philadelphia.

The Phillies pulled away with a three-run eighth against reliever Steve Kline. After Burrell hit a leadoff double, pinch-runner Endy Chavez went to third on a single by Chase Utley and scored when Kenny Lofton singled past the drawn-in infield. Steve Reed then got two outs before Placido Polanco hit a liner to shortstop that glanced off Tejada’s glove, and two runs scored on the error.

That was enough to ensure Philadelphia’s fifth win in seven games.

“This is a good time for us to start playing well,” Manuel said.

The Orioles went up 1-0 when Brian Roberts hit Lidle’s first pitch of the game for a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeff Fiorentino.

Notes — Roberts extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s got a hit in 39 of 43 games. … Baltimore right fielder Sammy Sosa is expected to return from the disabled list tomorrow. … Tejada played in his 799th consecutive game, moving past Nellie Fox into 10th place.

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