By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
12:20 AM EDT, July 24, 2011
Brad Bergesen has had his share of struggles this season, so it would be hard to begrudge the young right-hander getting a little excited when something went his way.
In the sixth inning Saturday, the usually stoic Bergesen pounded his fist in his glove as he walked off the mound after escaping a jam.
The Orioles' bullpen did the rest, getting the final nine outs to preserve the Orioles' 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Angels before an announced 20,311 at Camden Yards, where the game-time temperature was 102 degrees.
The game, played in a brisk 2:21, makes the Orioles 4-5 on their second-half-opening homestand, which ends this afternoon with the series finale against the Angels.
“You see a lot of guys just let it snowball, but he didn't,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Bergesen. “He pitched out of a tough jam there, first and second, nobody out. He showed a little toughness there of not letting it snowball and keeping us in the game.”
Registering the Orioles' fifth quality start in the past seven games, Bergesen allowed just two runs on six hits and two walks over six innings to record his first victory since May 14, when he threw a shutout against theTampa Bay Rays.
Adam Jones homered and drove in two of the Orioles' three runs, including the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly in the fifth inning. The Orioles (40-57) had 13 hits but were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and hit into four double plays, two on base-running mistakes.
Bergesen (2-6) put himself in position to get the win after getting out of the jam in the sixth. With Angels on first and second with no outs and the Orioles leading by one run, Bergesen got through the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters to strand two base runners.
He struck out Bobby Abreu, retired Vernon Wells — who had hit a two-run homer off him in the first inning — on an infield pop-up, and then got Alberto Callaspo to foul out to catcher Craig Tatum.
Jim Johnson got a double-play ball to turn in a scoreless seventh inning on just seven pitches. Koji Uehara retired the side in the eighth inning on nine pitches, and closer Kevin Gregg pitched the ninth for his 16th save.
Gregg allowed a two-out double before fighting back from a 3-0 count to strike out Howie Kendrick to end the game.
Bergesen was making just his second start since May 28. In his previous outing, Bergesen allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits over five innings against the Boston Red Sox.
In that game, Bergesen retired the first six batters he faced before the Red Sox started knocking him around. On Saturday, the right-hander's problems came in the first inning after it had appeared that he would head to the dugout with a scoreless frame.
After third baseman Mark Reynolds turned Torii Hunter's hard grounder into a double play, Bergesen quickly got ahead of Abreu. However, he couldn't put him away, issuing a two-out walk. Wells, who usually hits well against the Orioles, ripped an 0-2 pitch into the left-field seats for his 16th home run, giving the Angels a 2-0 lead.
Wells hit a grand slam off Gregg in the top of the ninth in Friday's series opener.
Bergesen appeared to settle in from there and got significant help from his catcher as Tatum threw out Howie Kendrick trying to steal in the second inning and Erick Aybar trying to steal in the third.
“Honestly, I think Craig Tatum throwing out those guys tonight was huge for me,” Bergesen said. “You have a guy on and you find those little breaks, and he came up huge twice. And Reynolds made a couple of big plays. So you just take those breaks and kind of roll with them.”
The Orioles' offense, meanwhile, was having no trouble making solid contact off Angels starter Joel Pineiro, who allowed eight runs (seven earned) in one-third of an inning in his last start against the Oakland Athletics. That was the shortest outing by an Angels starter in a noninjury or ejection situation since Aug. 28, 2007.
Somehow, Pinero kept the Orioles scoreless through the first three innings despite a number of hard-hit balls. The Orioles had men on first and second and one out in the third inning, and Nick Markakis bounced into a double play, extending his slump to 0-for-13.
Jones put the Orioles on the board by driving Pineiro's first pitch of the fourth inning into the left-field seats. It was the center fielder's 17th home run of the season, two below his career high.
“I'm just trying to seize the opportunity to hit in the middle of the lineup,” Jones said. “I'd like to stay there, so I'm just trying to contribute any way. But I think the entire evening goes to Bergesen. He went out there and threw the ball really well. The first inning was a little shaky, but he only gave up two runs.”
Trailing 2-1, the Orioles had another huge scoring opportunity in the inning as Reynolds and Derrek Lee followed Jones' homer with consecutive singles. Nolan Reimold then hit a soft liner to third. Callaspo snared it and then caught Reynolds off second base for the double play. Josh Bell, who was called up earlier in the day to take Luke Scott's roster spot, flied out to deep center to end the inning.
The Orioles put together another rally in the fifth, on the strength of consecutive hits by Robert Andino and Tatum. Hardy's flyout to right put runners on the corners with one out.
This time Markakis delivered, hitting a hard single past a diving Kendrick at second base to tie the game.
Jones then gave the Orioles the lead with a sacrifice fly to deep left. Pineiro was done after Reimold's one-out double in the sixth. Reimold was eventually doubled off second base on Bell's liner, leaving Pineiro's line at three runs allowed over 5 1/3 innings. It was a disappointing output for the Orioles, considering they had gotten 11 hits off him.
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