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Orioles 10, White Sox 3

Strong debut for O's Bergesen

23-year-old right-hander picks up win in first major league start, yielding four hits, one earned run, lasting into sixth

By Jeff Zrebiec | jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

7:52 AM EDT, April 22, 2009

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It started with boos as the fans saw Orioles manager Dave Trembley point to his bullpen and realized Brad Bergesen's successful major league debut was over.

But when Trembley took the ball from Bergesen and the 23-year-old pitcher started accepting congratulations from teammates, the applause began, culminating in a standing ovation for Bergesen, who disappeared into the dugout without even a tip of the cap.

On what Trembley had billed as a big night for the organization, Bergesen allowed three runs, only one earned, in 5 2/3 innings, and the Orioles broke a five-game skid with a 10-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox in front of an announced 14,801.

Nick Markakis went 4-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs, pushing his major league-leading total to 18. Aubrey Huff hit a pair of two-run homers. Luke Scott was 3-for-4 with an RBI, and Lou Montanez celebrated his call-up with an RBI double. The Orioles (7-7) improved to 5-2 at home with the victory in the opener of their nine-game homestand.

But they were mere subplots to Bergesen, a fourth-round pick in the 2004 draft who was the organization's minor league Pitcher of the Year last season. Bergesen didn't give up a hit until the fourth inning, struck out four and threw 58 of his 95 pitches for strikes. He did walk two, but never showed the nerves that you'd expect from a young man who started last season at Single-A Frederick and was making his major league debut.

"I think nervous would be an understatement," Bergesen said. "My heart was pounding about 1,000 beats a second. I felt like I tried to keep my composure as much as possible, but it was tough tonight."

Trembley said: "It was a tremendous performance. Great tempo. I think we talked about his poise. Quality pitches. Didn't get rattled. And the guys like playing behind him.

"I had a lot of comments tonight. Right after the first inning, Markakis came in and said, 'Hey, I like this. This guy works fast.' Roberts, Huff, all of them. He didn't flinch, made big pitches. That's a shot in the arm for the club."

Bergesen reported to Camden Yards on Monday night to move into his locker and start getting accustomed to his new surroundings. He was accompanied by his father, and Trembley, whose team returned from Boston on Monday evening, noted he looked like "a kid in the candy store."

The one-hour, 38-minute rain delay before Tuesday's game gave Bergesen even more time to think about his first major league start.

Trembley said: "This was a big day for everybody who's followed the Orioles. This is the first step in that youth movement of guys coming up through the system and guys developing, us showing patience with them, making sure they're ready when they get here. ... There's more coming. They're not here yet. They won't get here for a while. Bergesen's the first guy. Let's enjoy him."

The fans showed how much they enjoyed Bergesen with the ovation, which he called "unbelievable. It was something that I've always dreamed about. To get that after the first start was something special."

Bergesen's first pitch was a ball, but he responded by throwing consecutive strikes and retiring White Sox leadoff man Chris Getz on a hard grounder to third baseman Ty Wigginton. Bergesen got out of the 20-pitch first inning unscathed, striking out major league home run leader Carlos Quentin after a 12-pitch at-bat to end the inning.

He issued a one-out walk to Jermaine Dye in the second, but then induced Paul Konerko to hit into an inning-ending double play, started by a nice pickup from Wigginton at third. Wigginton made another nice play in the third inning, which ended with Bergesen's strikeout of No.9 hitter Brian Anderson.

The Orioles gave him his first lead in the third when Huff crushed Jose Contreras' 2-0 fastball just inside the right-field foul pole and onto Eutaw Street. The two-run shot traveled 415 feet and was the 49th homer onto Eutaw Street since the park opened.

In the bottom of the fourth, Bergesen got into trouble with a leadoff walk to Getz. He struck out Josh Fields and appeared to have gotten a double-play ball off the bat of Quentin. But Wigginton, who had already made three strong plays at third, couldn't handle the ball, and the error put runners on first and third with one out. Bergesen struck out slugger Jim Thome for the second out before Dye hit a hard single to record Chicago's first hit and score its first run.

Konerko followed with a line single to right field that scored Quentin, though Dye was thrown out by Markakis trying to go to third on the play.

Chicago took the lead in the fifth, getting a leadoff single by A.J. Pierzynski, a double by Alexei Ramirez and an RBI groundout from Anderson.

The Orioles answered with two runs in the bottom of the fifth to retake the lead. Markakis scored Brian Roberts with an RBI double, and Scott singled home Markakis with a single to right.


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