Grand victory

The Baltimore Sun

Stuck in their worst losing streak in more than a year, the Orioles had a rare Sunday off to regroup in what had been a winless September.

The unscheduled day off, created by the Ravens' home opener, also allowed designated hitter Aubrey Huff, who hadn't played since Wednesday, one more day to spend with his son, who was born Thursday.

Ultimately, Huff's grand slam, Adam Jones' three-run homer and a sufficient pitching performance led the Orioles to a 14-3 win over the Cleveland Indians and an emphatic halt of their eight-game losing streak in front of an announced crowd of 11,181.

It was just their third win in 18 games and first in six September tries.

"We needed it," Huff said. "The morale has been kind of down, and we hadn't been playing very good baseball. But we got a great start by Olson tonight. He threw strikes and gave us a chance to come back and put some runs on the board."

The Orioles (64-78) hit four homers on the night - Luke Scott and Ramon Hernandez also went deep - and scored their most runs since Aug. 17 at Detroit. But it was what occurred on the mound that might be most important.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley, as he has seemingly done all season, offered a challenge in his pre-game news conference to his young pitchers, specifically last night's starter, Garrett Olson, and fellow rookie Radhames Liz

"I am looking to see where they fit for 2009. Where do they fit?" Trembley said. "In what role, start or relief? I am already leaning towards one or the other, and I am not going to tell you which one that is."

Olson, like Liz, hasn't shown consistently that he can last deep into games - he failed to pitch six full innings in 14 of his first 22 starts. If that trend continues for the rest of the month, the Orioles might decide he is better off as a middle reliever.

Last night, Olson got through six innings, but he labored, throwing 66 pitches in his first four innings and 105 overall. He allowed at least one base runner in each inning and 11 total but kept the damage at a minimum.

"I thought Olson tonight deserved to win," Trembley said. "The way he pitched, he didn't have any clean innings - there was guys on base every inning - but he came up with a big pitch when he had to. ... His tempo was improved and his command of his fastball was better, so there were some real positive signs from him tonight."

Olson left after six, trailing 3-2, giving up eight hits and three walks and striking out six. But it was enough to earn him his seventh quality start of the season. It also put Olson (9-7) in position for the win when the Orioles rallied in the sixth against Fausto Carmona (8-6) and reliever Juan Rincon.

The big blast was Huff's grand slam to deep right against Rincon that gave the Orioles a 9-3 lead. With the slam, the fourth of his career, Huff now has 31 homers and 102 RBIs - the third time in his career he has surpassed 100 RBIs.

Pinch hitter Oscar Salazar had a much weaker hit but one almost as key. Trailing 3-2, with the bases loaded, Salazar hit a ground ball between shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and third baseman Andy Marte. They hesitated and the ball bounced into the outfield, scoring two and giving the Orioles their first lead.

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