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Markakis makes deep impact

The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE -- Nick Markakis almost didn't get the opportunity to hit in the eighth inning last night. The normally mild-mannered outfielder was so furious about being called out on strikes in the fourth inning that he lingered at home plate, letting plate umpire Brian Runge know exactly what he thought of the call.

Runge warned Markakis to be quiet or he would be ejected. Markakis, who had struck out seven times in his past eight at-bats to that point, heeded Runge's advice, and the Orioles and Daniel Cabrera were glad that he did.

Markakis tied the game with an RBI groundout in the sixth inning and then won it the eight with a solo homer on left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith's first pitch. Cabrera pitched eight dominant innings in the Orioles' 3-2 victory in front of an announced 16,823 at Safeco Field.

George Sherrill shut down his former team in the ninth for his seventh save, giving Cabrera the well-earned victory. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and didn't walk a batter for the first time in 30 starts. He also turned in the longest outing for an Orioles starter this season.

He got out of a base-loaded jam with no outs in the fourth inning by allowing just one run, and he retired 15 of the final 16 Mariners he faced, four on strikeouts. He needed just 95 pitches to go eight innings.

Trailing 2-0 in the fifth inning, the Orioles had two on and none out when Ramon Hernandez drove Carlos Silva's pitch over the head of left fielder Raul Ibanez. Aubrey Huff, who was on second base, appeared to think that Ibanez was going to catch it and nearly was passed on the base paths by Adam Jones.

Huff finally got going and didn't want to stop, running through third base coach Juan Samuel's stop sign and getting thrown out at the plate by a healthy margin. Luis Hernandez then bounced into a double play, extending the Orioles' offensive frustration for another inning.

They finally broke through in the sixth inning with Brian Roberts leading off with a single and coming home on Melvin Mora's triple to the right-center field gap. Markakis drove in Mora with a groundout to tie the game at 2.

Cabrera entered the start fresh off two quality outings. He allowed one earned run in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 12. On Friday, he held the New York Yankees to two earned runs in six innings for his first victory of the season.

He has succeeded mostly because of improved fastball command. Before his start against Tampa Bay, pitching coach Rick Kranitz instructed Cabrera to concentrate mostly on his fastball and not worry so much about mixing in his other pitches, especially early in the game.

Cabrera has heeded Kranitz's advice, and the results have been immediate. However, last night got off to a little bit of a rocky start.

Ichiro Suzuki led off with a single to right field, stole second base on Cabrera's next pitch and then moved to third on Jose Lopez's groundout to the right side. Ibanez gave the Mariners a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice

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