- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2007

BALTIMORE The Arizona Diamondbacks stumbled into Baltimore after dropping three straight and six of seven. They had fallen from first place to third in the NL West, their offense was struggling and beating American League teams was a daunting task.

Now, after two straight blowout wins, all is right with the Diamondbacks again.

Scott Hairston hit the first of three home runs off Daniel Cabrera, and Arizona dealt the Orioles their seventh straight loss, 8-4 last night at Camden Yards.

The Diamondbacks‘ second consecutive four-run win left them a game out of first and improved their interleague record to 3-5.

“We’ve been having fun, but I guess after you lose a few in a row, you start pressing a little more,” said Chris Young, who hit his ninth home run. “After these last couple games, you can tell out there that we’re a lot more loose and having a lot more fun now.”

Chad Tracy also connected for the Diamondbacks, who built a 5-0 lead in the third inning. Hairston nearly hit another homer in the sixth, but Orioles center fielder Corey Patterson leaped and reached over the 7-foot wall to snare the ball.

Not that it mattered. After allowing the Orioles to creep within a run, Arizona pulled away with a three-run ninth against rookie Jim Hoey, who was called up from Class AAA Norfolk before the game.

Before this series, the Diamondbacks were batting .206 over an 11-game stretch.

“We’ve got to keep it rolling because after we get two or three games where we swing it OK, we at times seem not to,” manager Bob Melvin said. “We’ve got to … keep grinding our bats because we expect to get better offensively, and the last two games have been pretty good.”

Arizona starter Edgar Gonzalez, working on two days rest as a replacement for the injured Randy Johnson, allowed one run and two hits in five innings. Gonzalez (3-2) was starting for the seventh time this season after pitching three scoreless innings in relief against the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

Given only 24 hours notice before the start, Gonzalez maintained his usual routine before turning in a solid 63-pitch effort.

“For a guy that’s kind of gotten the short end of the stick as far as the role he’s been used in, he’s been there for us every time,” Melvin said. “I couldn’t be happier with what Edgar has done for us this year.”

Cabrera (5-8) allowed five runs and six hits in eight innings. He permitted only one hit after the third inning, but by then the damage was done.

It was the second straight game in which the right-hander gave up three home runs. He has surrendered 14 this season compared to 11 all last year.

“I’m trying to keep the ball down, but I left a couple high,” he said. “We’re not machines. Sometimes you miss it, and they hit it.”

Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles, with an assist from Young. The center fielder sprinted to the warning track in right-center to catch up to the ball, then had it bounce off his glove and over the wall.

“It’s one of those plays that you see every now and then on TV on some kind of bloopers show. You hope it never happens to you, but I guess it can happen to anybody,” Young said. “Tonight it was me. You feel a lot worse if you don’t end up winning the game.”

The two-run homer got Baltimore to 5-3 in the sixth. Mora added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, but the Orioles could get no closer.

Since reaching the .500 mark on May 31, Baltimore has lost 12 of 14.

“We fought back. We got within one, and then it fell apart,” manager Sam Perlozzo said.

Hairston put the Diamondbacks up 2-0 in the second inning with his third homer after Mark Reynolds drew a leadoff walk. Two batters later, Young drove a 3-1 pitch into the left-field seats.

Tracy homered in the third after Cabrera hit Orlando Hudson with a pitch. The only runner Arizona got after that against Cabrera was Tracy, who singled in the sixth.

Baltimore got a run in the third when Corey Patterson doubled and scored on a single by Kevin Millar.

Notes The Orioles shook up their bullpen, placing right-hander Danys Baez (tendinitis) on the 15-day disabled list, releasing Todd Williams and bringing up Cory Doyne and Hoey from Norfolk. Doyne made his major debut, getting the final out in the ninth. …

The Baltimore bullpen has a 9.78 ERA over the last 12 games. …

It was only the second time in his last 15 starts that Gonzalez did not allow a home run.

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