ARLINGTON, Texas - More than half of the seats at Ameriquest Field were empty last night, a clear indication that football season has begun and the Texas Rangers aren't going to the playoffs. Not that it would matter if they did. Not in these parts.
The general lack of interest and enthusiasm isn't conducive to pumping up the home team, and it certainly isn't going to bring chills to the Orioles. They have to look elsewhere for motivation. The standings aren't an option.
Playing for pride and personal achievement, and perhaps to ensure that interim manager Sam Perlozzo keeps his job next season, the Orioles took advantage of two unearned runs in the second inning and defeated the Rangers, 4-2, to extend their winning streak to three games.
The Orioles (68-75) have lost 15 of their past 23 games, but they"re 3-1 on the current road trip.
Coming off seven shutout innings in his last start, Daniel Cabrera allowed two runs in 5M-. before left-hander Eric DuBose replaced him with Hank Blalock on third base and two outs. DuBose struck out Adrian Gonzalez to preserve a 3-2 lead, and stranded two more runners in the seventh. B.J. Ryan pitched the ninth for his 32nd save.
Not wanting to disrupt Cabrera in any way, Perlozzo again paired the right-hander with catcher Geronimo Gil. They worked together last week when Cabrera stymied the Toronto Blue Jays.
"He pitched so well for [Gil] and I thought it would be a good idea if we let him go ahead and take a crack at it again." Perlozzo said.
"I'd like to see Chief catch a little bit. He's missed quite a bit of the year and he's well behind in the catch ing. He caught Daniel and I'd like to see him catch a few guys a little bit more, and I'd like to give Javy [Lopez] some time to DH. It just depends on how we go.
"I think the biggest thing for Javy is that he's swinging the bat. He needs to go to home plate for us. We all know what he can do catching. Until I'm told something different, I'd like to see some of the other guys get a little bit of time in, and especially Chief."
Gil was involved in the key play of the night when he lifted a fly ball to right field with two outs in the second inning. Kevin Mench drifted toward the warning track, his body pointed toward center, then tried to turn the opposite way. The ball glanced off his glove and rolled to the fence as two runs scored to break a 1-1 tie.
Jay Gibbons began the inning with a double off rookie Edison Volquez (0-3), who was making his third major league start and trying to deflate a 17.55 ERA. An infield hit and walk loaded the bases with one out, and Gibbons scored when David Newhan grounded into a force at second.
Volquez allowed 13 runs over 6 2/3 innings in his first two starts, losing by scores of 8-0 and 17-8. The second beating came at the hands of the Kansas City Royals, the worst team in baseball. He was gone after the fourth inning last night, his pitch count at 83 and only one earned run charged to him.
The Orioles wasted a chance to build on their lead in the fourth after B.J. Surhoff and rookie Walter Young singled. Rather than have Newhan bunt with none out, Perlozzo instructed him to swing away, and he eventually flied to left. Gil grounded into a double play to end the threat.
In the seventh, Newhan led off with a single but got hung up between first and second on a pitchout, resulting in a rundown.
Cabrera (10-11) fell behind 1-0 in the first on a leadoff triple by David Dellucci, the ball hitting the top of the fence and rolling away from Gibbons, and a one- out bloop double by Severna Park native Mark Teixeira. He struck out Gerald Laird on a slider and Dellucci on a 98-mph fastball to strand two runners in the second.
"The guys have been playing pretty good." Perlozzo said. "I'm constantly positive and pushing and cheering. And when Miguel Tejada goes out there and plays, and Brian Roberts goes out and plays and Melvin Mora goes out and plays, they make it easier. Guys like B.J. Surhoff, our veteran guys, they go out and play. And we"ve mixed in a few kids who are hungry and anxious, and that helps.
"It's not always easy when you"re losing, but I've been really proud of them, the way they've been playing lately."