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O's clear fences, Seattle

The Baltimore Sun

They got great defense, a solid outing from their starting pitcher, some key outs from their bullpen and three home runs from their offense. It's the type of effort the Orioles would love to bottle up and dispense many times in this season of low expectations.

Kevin Millar, Ramon Hernandez and Melvin Mora all hit home runs and Steve Trachsel held down the Seattle Mariners for 5 2/3 innings, allowing the Orioles to secure a series-opening 7-4 victory in front of an announced 14,429 last night at Camden Yards.

Orioles closer George Sherrill put down his former team's rally in the ninth, getting the final two outs for his second save after Richie Sexson's two-run homer off Greg Aquino had pulled the Mariners within three runs.

"We got three out of the three," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "You get pitching, defense and timely hitting, you're going to win."

On a day when former manager Sam Perlozzo and ace Erik Bedard made their return to Camden Yards as Mariners, it was the Orioles' offense that became the story. They had 10 hits and every Oriole either reached base or drove in a run except Nick Markakis.

Hernandez, who entered the game without a hit, had three last night, including a solo home run that extended the Orioles' lead to 4-2 in the sixth inning. Mora gave the Orioles even more breathing room by hitting a two-run shot in the seventh inning.

Millar also had three hits, and it was his fifth-inning solo homer off Seattle starter Jarrod Washburn (0-1), which barely settled over the left-field wall and inside the foul pole, that broke a 2-2 tie.

To that point, shortstop Luis Hernandez had accounted for the Orioles' offense with two sacrifice flies against Washburn, whose pitch count was at 58 after two innings.

"It was a bomb, that's all I have to say - 337 1/2 feet," Millar joked. "Once again, a good game for the boys. I think everyone contributed today. Ramon did a great job swinging the bat, and Trachsel did a great job.

"Starting pitching set the tone. It was a typical Trachsel start. He kept guys off balance. Steve throws strikes and does not work fast, but it was a great job. He's exactly what you want from a veteran."

Trachsel fell behind frequently, running 10 three-ball counts according to Trembley. However, the veteran right-hander allowed just a two-run homer by Adrian Beltre over 5 2/3 innings. He surrendered four hits and walked two, leaving with the Orioles nursing a 3-2 lead.

"I felt like I kept the ball down pretty well," said Trachsel, who hadn't beaten the Mariners in five career starts. "We mixed it up really well. The changeup was real good, and I was able to throw it when I was behind in the count. They came out really aggressively, a lot more aggressive than I expected them to. But that usually works to my advantage."

Trachsel gave the ball to Trembley after walking Sexson with two outs in the sixth. In his Orioles' debut, Dennis Sarfate struck out Beltre on three pitches to get out of the sixth. He and Chad Bradford combined to get out of the seventh and Bradford and Jamie Walker teamed to get out of the eighth.

The Orioles' bullpen had posted 11 straight scoreless innings to start the season when Aquino served up the two-run shot to Sexson, which landed in the Orioles' bullpen. That was the only blemish for the Orioles all night.

"Trachsel went after everybody and [got] a lot of ground balls, and we were able to make the plays for him," Mora said. "And then we crushed some balls."

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