Rather than lining a single through a drawn-in infield with the bases loaded to win last night's game, Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez tried to convince the plate umpire that a pitch grazed his left shoulder. He gladly would have decided the outcome without swinging the bat.
Hernandez didn't get his way. And then he did.
Forced back into the batter's box, Hernandez drew reliever Scott Proctor's third walk of the ninth inning, scoring Corey Patterson and giving the Orioles a 3-2 victory over the New York Yankees before an announced 39,934 at Camden Yards.
Patterson opened the inning with a walk and took second on Brian Roberts' single. Proctor made a diving catch of Chris Gomez's pop-up but didn't try to double up Patterson, who was halfway to third. Nick Markakis walked, and Hernandez did the same - stomping on first base after getting there.
"We thought it hit Ramon," interim manager Dave Trembley said. "That's not the explanation I got from [umpire] Rob Drake, but we thought it hit Ramon. In fact, it doesn't matter now."
Asked whether he'll gladly take the walk, Trembley said, "We'll take the win."
The Orioles are 33-43 overall, 4-3 under Trembley, who replaced Sam Perlozzo as manager June 18. He talked before the game about how the Orioles must win back their fans after nine straight losing seasons, how the responsibility falls upon everyone in the organization.
Beating the Yankees is a pretty good start, and it happened because Hernandez didn't let Drake's call distract him.
"I think it's called 'poise,'" Trembley said. "The guy's been around the block. He's not hitting fourth for nothing."
Said Hernandez: "He said he couldn't see the ball hit me. I told him it did. If he doesn't see it, he's not going to call it. If I argued, that means it hit me, because I'm not going to argue for show.
"It really gets you hot, because you should've won the game right there. Now you keep having your at-bat, and I might ground out for a double play. You're just trying to stay calm, don't strike out and try not to hit a ground ball. Try to hit it in the air somewhere."
Or leave the bat on your shoulder.
"It looked like [Proctor] was trying to make good pitches and he just elevated too much," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "I had made up my mind he was going to be the pitcher in that situation because he's probably been the most consistent coming out of the bullpen. Lefty-righty, that was where we were going to go."
Jeremy Guthrie took a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning, then lost it when Johnny Damon hit a two-run homer. He left with one out in the seventh and the score tied, and the bullpen shut out the Yankees.
Jamie Walker had runners on the corners with one out in the seventh, but didn't break. Chad Bradford tossed a scoreless eighth, and Chris Ray walked two batters in the ninth but got the last two outs, earning his first career win against the Yankees in five decisions.
"I've pitched against the Yankees several times the last few years, so I know a lot of guys in the lineup," Ray said. "They're good hitters and you've got to make good pitches. One thing you can't do is give in to them."
Guthrie has allowed two earned runs or fewer in nine of his 10 starts since moving into the rotation May 8. He had gone at least seven innings in eight straight outings until last night.
"Early on, I was able to get ahead of guys and put them away and get the ball in play early," said Guthrie, who threw eight pitches in the first inning, 94 for the game. "Later on, they did a real nice job with the fastball and hit it around the ballpark that third time through."
The All-Star selections will be announced Sunday, and Guthrie has a chance to represent the Orioles, though a lack of name recognition and only four wins won't work in his favor.
"I voted for him," Trembley said.
Most of the Yankees weren't familiar with Guthrie beyond the videotape made available to them in the visiting clubhouse. Derek Jeter, who had two hits, grabbed a seat and studied Guthrie's tendencies before taking batting practice. Torre conceded that he knew little about Guthrie, who retired the first eight batters last night, besides how his professional career began in the Cleveland Indians' organization.
"We fought him," Torre said after the game, "but he was very impressive."
The Orioles scored a run in the third and fourth innings against Andy Pettitte, who's 20-5 lifetime against them. They wasted a single in the first and a walk and single in the second, and left the bases loaded in the fifth.
Patterson had three hits against Pettitte, including a run-scoring single in the fourth. His biggest contribution was scoring the winning run, after he held at third base on a ball that Hernandez insisted hit him, and that deflected off catcher Jorge Posada's mitt and rolled to the backstop.
"I think Corey Patterson probably assumed like everybody else did that Ramon got hit, and there's a lesson for everybody," Trembley said. "Just play, don't umpire."
For Jeff Zrebiec's podcast on the Orioles' managerial search, Andy MacPhail and Miguel Tejada, go to baltimoresun.com/oriolesaudio.