Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo got the news while his team was taking batting practice, and he made no attempt to suppress his pride. The Orioles had selected his son, Eric, a middle infielder from Shippensburg University, in the 35th round of the amateur draft. It was the start of what Perlozzo hoped would be a special night.
As it turned out, his night ended prematurely. Perlozzo was ejected in the top of the sixth inning for arguing a run-scoring balk call on starter Steve Trachsel. He then watched from the clubhouse as Chris Ray got the last four outs to close out the Orioles' 4-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies before an announced 22,375 at Camden Yards.
"It would've been tough to knock the smile off my face, but this certainly does make it a lot better," Perlozzo said. "I kind of thought about that all game, just saying, 'Lord, please, just make it a really nice day and win this game.' And the guys came through for me."
Nick Markakis hit a two-run homer off Rockies left-hander Jeff Francis in the fifth inning to extend the Orioles' lead to three runs. The team's bullpen, which struggled on a 10-game road trip, survived some tenuous moments to get the last nine outs behind Trachsel, who allowed two earned runs in six innings.
Perlozzo was tossed for the first time this season, after he vehemently argued the balk call with first base umpire Larry Vanover. The balk allowed Todd Helton to score, cutting the Orioles' lead to 4-2. Perlozzo burst out of the dugout when Vanover waved Helton home. He wildly gesticulated his arms, and it wasn't long before Vanover, who also ejected Colorado manager Clint Hurdle two innings later, threw out the Orioles manager.
"I'm upset because [Trachsel] goes through an entire game, sometimes 80 to 100 pitches, and yet there's always one pitch that he does something different, and I take issue with that," said Perlozzo, who left the field as many fans behind the Orioles' dugout gave him a standing ovation.
Trachsel (5-4) also was upset, motioning his glove at Vanover as he walked backed to the dugout after he got the final out of the sixth. Trachsel continued to yell at the umpire from the top step of the dugout.
"Same thing I've been doing for 14 years," Trachsel said. "There was nothing on the replay. I can't imagine I was deceiving Todd Helton from attempting to steal home. I don't know. Whatever I was doing, it was the same delivery. ... It's my move and I've been doing it for years and years and years."
With Perlozzo back in the clubhouse and bench coach Tom Trebelhorn away from the team to be with his ailing wife, bullpen coach Dave Trembley took the reins for the final three innings. He was a busy man, using three pitchers to get out of the eighth inning after Todd Williams had pitched a perfect seventh.
Asked if he was within earshot of the dugout to communicate with Trembley during the game, Perlozzo laughed and said, "They pretty much had it under control."
With the Orioles holding a 4-2 lead, Chad Bradford started the inning, but his throwing error gave Matt Holliday second base to lead off the inning. Trembley then brought in left-hander Jamie Walker, who induced the dangerous Helton to ground out and then got Garrett Atkins on a shallow pop-up that wasn't deep enough to score Holliday from third.
But after Walker walked Brad Hawpe, Trembley handed the ball to Ray, who gave up a walk-off home run to Vladimir Guerrero in his last save opportunity. The closer walked Troy Tulowitzki to load the bases, but then struck out Ryan Spilborghs with a 2-2 fastball that measured 97 mph on the stadium radar gun.
Ray, consistently getting his fastball down in the zone, then pitched a perfect ninth to get his 13th save, and first this season when he needed to get more than three outs.
"That last save opportunity has been behind me since the next day. I don't really think about it," said Ray, who defended his fellow relievers. "We've got some great pitchers down there. I don't think anybody doubts that on this team, and I have confidence in everyone out there. It's just a matter of us running into some unfortunate things over the road trip, and I don't expect any of that to continue."
Francis, who entered last night 4-0 with a 1.46 ERA in his past five starts, was solid for seven innings, but suffered his first loss since May 2.
Kevin Millar and Aubrey Huff had first-inning RBI singles, and then Markakis crushed Francis' 2-1 pitch onto the flag court in right field. It was his ninth home run of the season, a mark that he didn't reach last year until Aug. 22.
"Home runs are obviously the harder ones to hit," the second-year outfielder said. "You just step in, look for a good pitch and put a good swing on it, whether it goes out of the park or in the gap for an extra-base hit, that's just the way it is. Hopefully it will continue."
Perlozzo, whose smile was constant throughout the post-game news conference, hopes so, too. When he returned to his office after speaking to reporters, Perlozzo was joined by his 22-year-old son and one of his friends. His wife, Beth, also waited outside to offer more congratulations on a special night for the Perlozzo family.