- The Washington Times - Monday, June 18, 2007

BALTIMORE — It didn’t take long for Arizona to unearth the not-so-secret method for beating the Baltimore Orioles: Hang in there against the starting pitcher, then hammer away at the bullpen.

The strategy worked to perfection this weekend during a three-game sweep.

Chad Tracy singled in the go-ahead run in the eighth inning, and the Diamondbacks capitalized on another poor performance by Baltimore relievers in a 6-4 victory yesterday that extended the Orioles‘ losing streak to eight.

After scoring three runs in the first two innings against Baltimore starter Brian Burres, Arizona managed only one walk over the next five. The Orioles, meanwhile, had forged a tie against 2006 NL Cy Young winner Brandon Webb.

The Diamondbacks weren’t concerned. On Friday night, they scored five runs in the last two innings against four Baltimore relievers. On Saturday, they pulled away with a three-run ninth after starter Daniel Cabrera left.

So, in the series finale, the Diamondbacks simply bided their time until Burres turned the game over to the bullpen.

“At some point in time he’s coming out,” Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. “One way or the other we need to try and grind on the starter, try to get him out.”

That happened after seven innings, and the Diamondbacks immediately took the lead for good in the eighth.

Chad Bradford (0-4) entered with the score 3-3. He struck out Conor Jackson, then walked Orlando Hudson and yielded a single to Scott Hairston. Tracy greeted Jamie Walker with an RBI single, and another run scored on a throwing error by second baseman Brian Roberts before Chris Snyder hit a sacrifice fly to make it 6-3.

That was enough to assure the Orioles a 1-8 homestand and their 13th loss in 15 games. The lengthy skid could cost manager Sam Perlozzo his job, but it’s hard to fault him for an offense that ranks last in the AL with 50 home runs or a bullpen that went 0-5 with a 6.00 ERA during the homestand.

“Sam Perlozzo doesn’t throw the ball and doesn’t catch the ball. We know that for sure, right? He doesn’t hit the ball,” said Kevin Millar, who struck out in the ninth with the tying run at second base. “He doesn’t play. We play. And we’ve got to find a way to play better.”

While dressing, Millar angrily shooed away a pack of reporters and TV cameramen who were chatting near his locker. Clearly, the frustration of losing was taking its toll on him and the rest of the last-place Orioles.

“We just haven’t won games. It seems likes every game something [messes] up the W. We’re not scoring runs. We’re not getting big hits,” he said. “We’re in a tailspin, and one day we’ll get out of it. Maybe in August. It might be another six weeks. We’ll let you know on this road trip.

“It’s one of those things called baseball, and we’re in one of those ruts.”

Eric Byrnes and Snyder homered for the Diamondbacks, who outscored Baltimore 21-11 during the sweep.

Webb (7-4) allowed three runs, two earned, and seven hits in seven innings for Arizona. The right-hander is 4-1 in his last five starts.

“I had to battle, especially the first three innings. I had no clue where the fastball was going,” he said. “After the third inning I was able to find my breaking ball and change-up.”

Seldom-used Freddie Bynum had two hits and an RBI for the Orioles, whose eight-game skid is their longest since 2005.

“The players know I’m doing everything I can possibly do to help the ballclub,” Perlozzo said. “We all have to just keep doing the best we can do, and if something happens to the contrary, then it happens. But if you start letting that bother you, then the job’s not going to get done.”

Burres gave up three runs and five hits in seven innings, the longest outing of his big league career. The rookie had a career-high nine strikeouts and walked two.

After allowing six of the first 11 batters to reach, Burres retired 15 straight before walking Augie Ojeda in the seventh. The left-hander then concluded his day by retiring Byrnes on a popup.

But as has been the case during the Orioles‘ lengthy skid, the game got away from Baltimore when the bullpen got involved.

After Arizona took the lead in the eighth, Nick Markakis doubled and scored in the bottom half. But Jose Valverde silenced Baltimore in the ninth to earn his 22nd save in 25 chances, striking out Millar and Roberts after the Orioles put runners on second and third with one out.

Byrnes homered on the second pitch of the game, and Snyder led off the second with a home run before Jackson hit an RBI single for a 3-0 lead.

Baltimore closed to 3-2 in the second, then tied it with an unearned run in the third.

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