The Orioles acquired Kris Benson this off season to steady a young pitching staff, to log innings and to present the team with a chance to win every time out. A month into his Orioles career, Benson has done all that and more.
With his team badly in need of a victory to take on their five-game road trip, Benson delivered another strong outing and the Orioles" offense awoke in the later innings to post a 9-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays last night in front of 15,795 at Camden Yards.
The win, secured by two-run home runs by Jay Gibbons, Miguel Tejada and Ramon Hernandez and some clutch bullpen work at last by Sendy Rleal and Todd Williams, broke a three-game losing streak and puts the Orioles (14-14) back at the .500 mark.
It was also just the Orioles' third win in the past 10 games and two of the three victories belong to Benson, who quieted the powerful Blue Jays (13-12) for the second time in five days. Benson allowed only two earned runs and six hits through 6 2/3 innings, improving to 4-2 on the season.
"It was night and day compared to my last couple of starts, just command wise." Benson said. "Tonight everything worked out pretty good."
Benson carried a four-hit shutout into the seventh inning before allowing an RBI single by Eric Hinske. Manager Sam Perlozzo then went out and removed Benson, turning to his troublesome bullpen.
Making his first major league appearance since 2003, Julio Manon, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Ottawa earlier yesterday, came in and surrendered an RBI triple to Alex Rios, and then walked Frank Catalanotto and Vernon Wells, loading the bases.
Perlozzo's trip to the mound was greeted by cheers and Rleal came in and got the dangerous Troy Glaus, who hit two homers Monday, to line out to left fielder Nick Markakis, preserving the 5-2 lead.
Rleal and Williams combined to pitch a scoreless eighth and Williams closed it out with a scoreless ninth, getting extra breathing room from Tejada and Hernandez's two-run homers in the bottom of the eighth.
Third baseman Melvin Mora and Tejada combined to go 6-for-8 with five RBIs and four runs scored.
"He's got a different look in his eyes." Perlozzo said of Tejada, who now is hitting a league-leading .423 with eight home runs and 26 RBIs. "I think he is really going after it and has really good concentration. He is the outstanding hitter we remember."
Holding a 3-0 lead, the Orioles tacked on two more in the sixth inning on Gibbons' sixth home run off Casey Janssen (0-2).
The Orioles beat Toronto's Janssen last week in a 7-5 victory at Rogers Centre, which spoiled Janssen's major league debut. They used a patient approach that forced the 24-year-old right- hander who was initially drafted by the Orioles in 2003 to throw 95 pitches in just four innings.
Benson started in that game, allowing only three hits and two earned runs over seven innings. He continued that last night.
After going quietly through the first two innings, managing only Mora's one-out single in the first, the Orioles broke through on Janssen with a three-run third.
Markakis got things started with a one-out double in the right-center-field gap, the third straight game in which the rook ie has doubled.
With two outs, Mora quickly fell behind 0-2 before swatting Janssen's pitch down the left-field line for a two-run double.
Then Tejada, in the designated hitter's spot for the third straight game because of his hyper-extended left knee, dropped a single in front of Toronto right fielder Alex Rios, giving the Orioles a 3-0 lead.
By then, Benson had found his groove. After allowing a two-out double to Toronto catcher Bengie Molina in the second, Benson retired 11 straight Blue Jays.
Benson found himself in a jam in the sixth as he loaded the bases on Rios' double and walks to Frank Catalanotto and Glaus. Overbay tried to jump on Benson's first pitch and he sent a fly ball to deep center that Corey Patterson handled easily