O's end skid

The Baltimore Sun

In September of another losing season, facing an unavoidable last-place finish for the first time in two decades, it's difficult to believe that any win could be an important one for the Orioles.

Yet after losing a season-worst eight in a row, several in embarrassing fashion, and rarely getting a well-pitched game from a young starter, the Orioles craved the kind of victory they picked up last night, a 14-3 blowout of the Cleveland Indians before 11,181.

"We needed it," said Orioles designated hitter Aubrey Huff, whose grand slam capped a seven-run sixth inning. "The morale has been kind of down, and we hadn't been playing very good baseball."

The 14 runs, buoyed by homers from Huff, Adam Jones, Luke Scott and Ramon Hernandez, weren't a surprise. In each of their past six wins - dating to Aug. 14, a span of 22 games - the Orioles have scored 10 or more runs.

What was different about last night's victory was the pitching - for just the second time in 20 tries, the Orioles held their opponent to three runs or fewer.

Perhaps most impressive, the one responsible was left-hander Garrett Olson (9-7), who has been seemingly pitching for his rotation spot for months.

"I thought Olson tonight deserved to win," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "The way he pitched, he didn't have any clean innings - there were guys on base every inning - but he came up with a big pitch when he had to."

It wasn't pretty, but the Orioles will take Olson's six-inning, three-run outing that included 11 base runners. He struck out six, including three to end innings.

"When you get to this point, you just kind of show up and try to work hard without too many expectations," Olson said. "If you try to put too much pressure on yourself, you're not going to be able to perform."

Trembley has publicly challenged Olson, 24, several times this season. He did it again before last night's game, but he also did it privately Saturday.

"I said, 'Don't make me go out there and take you out on Monday,' " Trembley said. "We're getting to the point in time ... if these guys are going to get an opportunity, I'm willing to give it to them and they're going to have to fish or cut bait with it."

Trembley kept his word, not warming up anyone in the bullpen when Olson had thrown 66 pitches through four innings or when he hit 100 in the sixth.

"I didn't notice it at the time, but looking back on it now, that means a lot, especially from the manager," said Olson, who hadn't won since Aug. 1. "It shows that he has trust and respect for you."

Relievers Lance Cormier and Jim Miller combined for three scoreless innings, and the offense did the rest, bashing Fausto Carmona (8-6) for seven runs.

Huff, who missed the previous two games because of the birth of his first son, continued his incredible season - getting three hits and topping 100 RBIs for the third time in his career.

"It is just one of those years," he said. "Last year was just one of those years where everything stunk, and this year everything has been pretty good."

It's been a rough few weeks for the Orioles (64-78), but they finally got back into the win column - something they had yet to do in September.

"It's good for the team and good for the fans," Trembley said. "Obviously, the mood in the clubhouse is a whole lot better."

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