Bearing up well

The Baltimore Sun

CHICAGO -- The Orioles said all the right things, denying that taking two of three games against the Chicago Cubs, the team with the best overall and home record in baseball, was any sort of statement.

The closest anybody came to gloating was when Aubrey Huff, who had another four-hit day in the Orioles' 11-4 rout of the Cubs before an announced 41,670 at Wrigley Field, called the past three days "definitely one of the most satisfying series that we've played this year."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley, a former Cubs minor league manager who was fired after the 2002 season after his tough and rigid style alienated some team officials, would say only that yesterday was a big game and it was good for his team to rebound.

But the moment meant enough to Trembley, who hadn't been to Wrigley Field in a decade, to bring his wife, Patti, on the field after the final out was made. His son, Kevin, served as the team's batboy on an afternoon when the Orioles pounded out 13 hits and put up 11 runs by the sixth inning, giving starter Radhames Liz plenty of wiggle room.

"It felt good," Trembley said in his lone moment of introspection.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail was the Cubs' president and chief executive officer for 12 years before he resigned amid mounting criticism. Standing outside the Orioles' clubhouse after the game, MacPhail wished the Cubs well and complimented their fans, saying: "They will be rewarded, and they deserve to be."

As for the performance of his current team, MacPhail said: "They've shown a lot of character all year long, and they continue to do it. Two out of three here is a tough gig."

It was just the third series the Cubs have lost at Wrigley all year - the Milwaukee Brewers were responsible for the other two - and the first since April 29 to May 1. On a hot and sticky afternoon, the Orioles, who ended the Cubs' 14-game home winning streak in the series opener, won their 40th game after not reaching that plateau until July 14 last year.

They also improved to 10-5 in inter- league play, and with three games remaining against the Washington Nationals, they've clinched their first winning record against the National League since 1999 and their third overall since interleague play started in 1997.

Yet, All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts, the player whom the Cubs coveted all season, would say only that winning the series shows the Orioles are a "pretty good team."

"I think we've played pretty well all year," said Roberts, who was 6-for-14 with three extra-base hits and four runs in the series. "I think we're capable of winning anywhere at any time."

Roberts had plenty of offensive help yesterday as the Orioles pounded Cubs starter Jason Marquis for seven runs in four innings.

Along with Huff's four hits, including a career-high tying three doubles, backup catcher Guillermo Quiroz was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and Jay Payton was 2-for-5 with three RBIs. The Orioles scored five runs in the third, two in the fourth, one in the fifth and three in the sixth.

"We just kept hitting, hitting and hitting," Quiroz said.

Liz (2-0) got out of a bases-loaded jam in the second, setting the stage for an afternoon during which he was frequently in trouble but didn't give in.

His performance was especially welcome after the bullpen was needed to log 7 2/3 innings Wednesday night.

"He's a young guy that's got a very good arm," said Trembley, who said that the rookie threw 30 straight fastballs to start the game. "I think there are moments where he'll show you just what he's all about. Really, the main part of him is the kid's got a lot of poise. He'll keep coming at you with his fastball. He's not afraid to throw it."

Liz went to a full count seven times, walked four batters and hit one. But when he strolled off the mound with two on and no outs in the sixth, the Orioles had an 11-0 lead and were on their way to winning the series. It was a significant result, one the Orioles said they expected.

"I think that's just kind of where we're at as a team," Payton said. "I don't care who we're playing right now. We just feel like we have a chance to beat anybody we are playing."

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