BALTIMORE (AP)—The Baltimore Orioles knew there would come a time when they’d have to rely on their potent offense to carry an ineffective starting rotation and a bullpen on the brink of exhaustion.
That’s precisely what happened Sunday. Baltimore matched its season high with 16 hits and hit three home runs, yet the outcome remained in doubt until the very last out.
“I think you saw it all today,” Baltimore manager Lee Mazzilli said. “Good pitching, bad pitching. Good baserunning, bad baserunning. Good hitting.”
Also, plenty of good hitting. Tejada, Melvin Mora and Javy Lopez had three hits apiece for the Orioles, who survived a 15-hit barrage by the Indians and a shaky start by Eric DuBose to complete their first sweep of the Indians since August 1993.
“Obviously, you walk away with a win, it’s good,” Mazzilli said. “But we have to find a different way to get it done.”
DuBose had a career-high eight strikeouts in five innings but allowed six runs, giving Orioles starters a 6.67 ERA over the last 16 games.
“We can’t go the whole year like this,” Mazzilli said.
After rallying for a 10-7 win Saturday, Baltimore again feasted on Cleveland’s shaky bullpen to prevail in a seesaw game in which there was scoring in every inning.
Tejada, who came in with two home runs, doubled that total with his sixth career two-homer game.
“It was a crazy game,” Tejada said. “They never stopped pushing, and we did the same thing.”
Lou Merloni homered for the Indians, who have dropped five in a row. Down 12-9 starting the ninth, Cleveland scored twice against Jorge Julio and had the bases loaded with two outs before the Orioles’ closer retired Victor Martinez on a popup to earn his fifth save.
“We’re not going to be perfect,” Indians manager Eric Wedge said. “We came back four, five, six times. We played all the way through the end, all the way through the last out.”
But Cleveland couldn’t overcome its dreadful bullpen, which came in 4-10 with a 6.84 ERA and proceeded to yield six runs over three innings.
Trailing 8-6, Baltimore rallied in the sixth after David Riske (0-1) replaced starter Jason Davis. Larry Bigbie hit a leadoff double and Tejada homered with two outs, tying the score. The Orioles then loaded the bases for B.J. Surhoff, who doubled in two runs.
Cleveland filled the bases with no outs in the seventh against Buddy Groom. Rodrigo Lopez (3-1) walked in a run, but got pinch-hitter Omar Vizquel to hit into a force play at the plate before coaxing Ronnie Belliard to bounce into a 1-2-3 double play.
“I said to him when he came in, `Just give them one run.’ He sure as heck did,” Mazzilli said.
Baltimore added two in the eighth against Jose Jimenez, then survived a harrowing ninth.
“As long as we’re getting better, moving in the right direction every day, that’s all you can ask for at this point,” said Cleveland’s Jody Gerut, who had three hits to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
The Indians scored twice in the sixth to go up 8-6. Making his first relief appearance in the majors, Matt Riley gave up a hit and two walks to load the bases with two outs before Mike DeJean yielded a two-run single to pinch-hitter Ben Broussard.
But it didn’t take long for Riske to give away the lead.
“We believe in the guys that we have in the bullpen. We still do,” Gerut said. “They’re just working out their kinks.”
Mora put the Orioles up 1-0 in the first with his fourth homer, and Baltimore added two in the second on RBI singles by Luis Matos and Bigbie.
Cleveland closed to 3-2 in the third. Belliard hit an RBI single to left, and when Bigbie’s casual throw from the outfield went awry, John McDonald alertly scampered home.
Jay Gibbons hit an RBI double in the bottom half, but Cleveland used a three-run fourth to take a 5-4 lead. Merloni hit his first homer of the season in the fifth, and Tejada tied it at 6 in the bottom half by going deepfollowing a leadoff single by Mora.
Merloni’s homer was his first since July 20, 1993. … Baltimore optioned OF Darnell McDonald to Triple-A Ottawa, and will activate 2B JerryHairston from the disabled list Tuesday.